- Views & Opinions
There’s a proposed item in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget that would waste $250,000 to have the Public Service Commission study the health effects of wind turbines. His transparent intention is to continue stalling on Wisconsin’s development of this renewable energy source, which is opposed by the real-estate sector and producers of dirty energy, including Koch Industries and Exon Mobil. Those industries have bestowed Walker with beaucoup bucks, and, as he’s proven time and again, he’s not about to let the state do anything counter to their interests on his watch — not even for the best interests of Wisconsinites.
If wind energy did indeed present a health hazard for humans, the world would be well aware of it by now. Wind energy is the second fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the world — behind only solar, Wind has contributed to increasing energy independence and job growth throughout Europe and Asia over the past decade. It’s also led to falling energy costs in nations such as Germany, where 31 percent of energy during the first half of last year came from wind, solar and hydro.
Neighboring Iowa generated 27.4 of its electricity from wind in 2013. The state continues to expand its wind energy program, with no reports of health problems that we could find.
But there’s even stronger evidence that wind energy is harmless, and Walker is well aware of it. Five years ago, 13 Wisconsinites from all sectors were appointed to the state’s Wind Siting Council. The council reviewed over 50 different scientific studies and found no evidence to support the contention of Walker and his shills that wind turbines are hazardous to human health. The only studies used by the council were those that had appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The findings of the Wind Siting Council, presented to the Legislature in October 2014, should have marked the end of the story for wind energy deniers.
The $250,000 Walker wants to spend to duplicate a conclusive study on a topic that has long since been settled elsewhere could be used in many other productive ways. The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters suggests that the money could go to programs that contribute to conservation, clean energy, or monitoring the pollution and contamination that we know are caused by the forms of energy that Walker favors.
The absurdity of Walker throwing away taxpayer money to hold up the production of clean energy due to public health concerns is laughable. Walker has never met a polluter he didn’t like. His environmental policies are extremely hazardous to public safety, including the relaxation of regulations for polluters, construction of the nation’s largest tar sand crude pipeline, which flows under every major waterway in the state, and revamping the permitting process to make it easier for operators of open pit mines to get approval without public input — just for starters.
This is not a partisan issue. Renewable energy is essential to keeping Wisconsin in the game, and the hypocrisy Walker shows toward it should offend every citizen who expects our leaders to do what’s best for us over the interests of their benefactors or in the interests of their political aspirations.
Of course, the Public Service Commission, which is dominated by Walker appointees, might just come up with findings that conveniently differ from all the scholarly studies on the subject. If that should occur, we hope that Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the sham for what it is.