Making Realistic Choices

Proposals for new wind energy projects are generating controversy in Appalachia.

Opponents of wind projects, such as the ones in Tazewell or Highland counties of Virginia, or Barbour and Randolph counties of West Virginia, are worried about biodiversity, about safety, about property values and about views of the mountains.

This is perfectly understandable. The legitimate concerns of wind power opponents cannot be dismissed, nor will they be. The monitoring and mitigation plans being developed by scientists working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with emerging state regulations, are keys to appropriate wind power development.

We understand the concern, but what’s hard to fathom is the extent to which wind power opponents feel that they live apart from the rest of the world. They argue for the mountains they love as if they can either take wind power or leave things as they are.

We believe that is not the realistic choice. It is vital to consider the impact of larger events and forces, and to recognize that things are simply not going to stay as they are. The climate is rapidly changing and the mountains and watersheds of Appalachia are being sacrificed at an alarming rate.

We have to conclude that the realistic choice is between renewable energy, leading to an Appalachia worth living in, and the current unsustainable path, leaving an arid, flattened, poisoned wasteland in its wake.

True, renewable energy sources like wind power aren’t perfect, but so far, they are the best answers we have.

In the end, if we choose a livable, sustainable Appalachia for tomorrow, we cannot complacently choose business as usual today.

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