Thursday, July 3, 2008

Editorial: Wind Turbines could Spoil Views of Drilling Rigs

At first I was a supporter of wind power in Schoharie County, New York. However, after finding out that Schoharie County might soon be home to breathtakingly stunning views of natural gas drilling rigs including large derricks, pumping and drilling equipment and storage tanks, I’ve realized that we can not jeopardize these precious environmental assets by erecting wind turbines. I’ve seen natural gas drilling fields before, and believe me, nothing recharges the soul like the fresh air that wafts off a ‘drilling mud’ pit.

You might think that we could do both, but you’d be wrong. Natural gas drilling simply can not exist side by side with wind power. Wind turbines are often two or three times as tall as the drilling rigs that majestically ‘fracture’ underground rock formations flaring gasses into the atmosphere and leaking heavy metals into the groundwater. These busy little derricks would be dwarfed by the monstrous wind turbines. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anything getting in the way of my views of drilling platforms and bermed pools of toxic mud waste. That’s just not why I came to Schoharie County.

But wind turbine development could also pose other more serious environmental threats to natural gas drilling operations. For example, natural gas drilling requires the use of high-pressure ‘fracturing fluids’ such as diesel, acids and heavy metals. These fluids may enter into groundwater used for drinking and bathing. How can I enjoy sitting out on my back porch looking out at a natural gas derrick, sipping water contaminated with acids and heavy metals when there are giant wind turbines off in the distance to distract me?
Then there’s the air quality issue. Natural gas drilling inevitably results in the release of numerous toxic chemicals into the atmosphere such as hydrogen sulfides, nitrogen oxides, heavy metals, and sulfur dioxides. In areas with heavy natural gas drilling, these pollutants can result in ozone levels well beyond the danger threshold level of 50-60 parts per billion. In other words, it creates pretty smog. It may be possible that with this level of smog, we might not be able to see the wind turbines, but what if we can, and what if they take away from the pretty sunsets?

Clearly, wind turbines are not the “green” solution that their supporters claim they are. In my opinion, Schoharie County simply can not afford to build wind turbines when of our best assets is the natural landscape, which will soon be enhanced by drilling rigs, derricks, diesel-flavored groundwater and exotic multi-colored smog.

21 comments:

Tom Gray said...

Thanks, Sean. Some similar thoughts raced through my mind when I read a recent New York Times article about gas drilling leases in the Catskills.

For the record: wind power is readily available, affordable and abundant. Along with energy efficiency, it should be one of the first steps we take to respond to the threat of global warming.

For an authoritative look at what wind power can do, see the 20% by 2030 Technical Report from the U.S. Department of Energy at www.20percentwind.org.

Regards,
Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association
www.powerofwind.org
www.awea.org

Anonymous said...

so niles and the wind lobbyist are telling us that if we put up wind turbines there will be no new natural gas drilling!!

Congrats on the big wind lobby reading the blog we are in for some spin fun now

Anonymous said...

The hypocrisy of the situation between wind towers and natural gas drilling in Cobleskill is almost funny. Most of the officials and land owners who once touted wind energy as a clean contribution that the County can make to serve our country are now the first ones to jump in and embrace natural gas drilling. I thought we were going to put in the big wind turbines to make the county the gleaming showcase for getting rid of the nasties like coal, nuclear oil, natural ga…. Oh, the gas man is knocking on my door now, forget that last one. Wake up people! Can you see that the support in this area is for anything that pays out? It does not matter if it pollutes or not as long as it lines the right pockets. I’m sure the land owners that want to lease to wind companys won’t support the natural gas drilling on their property. Wrong......with tongues wagging and hand out they will be the first ones to sign up.

Tom Gray said...

Um, I don't think I said anything about wind turbines negating the need for gas. There is not much to be done as long as our consumption of all types of energy keeps increasing.

More wind can certainly reduce the need for gas, but I have no idea what sort of effect it would have on gas development in your region.

Regards,
Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association
www.powerofwind.org
www.awea.org

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Gray. What is the AWEA recommendation for a safe distance from a wind turbine? I hope the AWEA has the knowledge to come up with a recommendation. Are you aware of the company pushing for development here wants a small setback so they get a project that works? Is the AWEA ok with the industry playing small town politics to get whatever setback works or will the AWEA stand up and recommend a set of national standard setbacks based on turbine size and height?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gray, since you are participating in this blog perhaps you could give me some advice. I have a pre-existing tower in the town of cobleskill, i live on a hill always windy, are there any programs or research labs that would help set up a wind system for study or observation so I can somehow reap some discounted energy. I cannot afford the turbines and other items necessary for energy conversion. Perhaps zoning will not come into play due to the prexisting structure. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Um, I'm glad Tom Gray identifies that he is a big wind lobbyist.

Go to www.awea.org and look at the board of directors and staff. You'll find it is made up of big wind industry people, attorneys, and ex political workers. Check out the awea web site and also take note at what companies AWEA hires to do work. Tetra Tech is one of them. Who is coming to speak in Richmondville this month? http://www.schohariecounty-ny.gov/CountyWebSite/publicannouncements.jsp

A bit too coincidental? Reunion and cronies and industry insiders are hard at work in little Richmondville! Can't have that 1,500 feet setback and zoning law get in the way.

Anonymous said...

You have to click on [Town & Village Govs], then [Town of Richmondville, then [Public Announcements].

Anntonette Alberti - works for Tetra Tech and once worked for Hoerizon Wind energy. Might be a good presentation...with a slight bias.

Anonymous said...

"Hoerizon"...what is this supposed to be, "grab ém by the misogynist and surly"...?!?! IS THIS THE BEST YOU CAN DO in terms of a rebuttal? Quelle pathetique. Big Wind, indeed. ---Ms. Wankette (no honor in self-appointment to any public office) to youse, well, self-servers.

Anonymous said...

r u insane !?! It was a simple spelling error. The "e" is next to the "r" on the keyboard. Please take your medication before flying off the handle.

Emmett Pepper said...

WIND ENERGY FORUM

Thursday, July 17, 2008
7:00pm-9:00pm
Bouck Hall Theater - SUNY Cobleskill
FREE and open to the public.
Refreshments will be served

Come learn the truth about wind power from statewide experts, including Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) and NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, among others.
CCE will give a presentation followed by a panel discussion.

For more info call (914) 997-0946 or e-mail whiteplains@citizenscampaign.org.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps CCE can provide recommended setbacks from homes, private property, and roads based on turbine size and height. Hopefully it will be a good session at SUNY that is more in depth then just the generic reasons why well-to-do urbanites support building wind power in the rural areas where they can drive by for 2 minutes with their thumbs up. I have heard the generic reasons over and over again. Yes – I’m sold – in theory wind power is good. Not so great if it is located too close to my property. CCE -- how about following the generic “myths vs. facts” talk with an in depth discussion on the scientific guidelines on where and how projects get placed? Should it be 200 feet from private property or 2,000 feet? What are the setbacks of existing projects in the United States and have there been any corresponding issues that we can learn from these experiences. I’ll support a wind project on Warnerville Hill as long as I know the reasons for the setback distances are based more on facts and less on who got to what local councilman last. It is time for us to get some substantial facts. Here’s an idea – instead of parading one industry or “statewide expert” after another and one pamphlet after another before me touting how great wind power is, how about setting up a panel of people who live near operating wind projects (and do not get income directly from the project) and can answer questions freely? Isn’t someone living near a wind project that is not getting paid by the project, able and willing to speak openly about his or her experiences if their travel is paid for? Now that would be interesting. Or are people afraid what these folks have to say? Excuse the sarcasm but it has gotten old and it is time for some group to tackle these issues more directly. Might that group be CCE?

Anonymous said...

Here is what Vestas says:

Page 3 of Safety Regulations for Operators and Technicians
V90 – 3.0MW/V100 – 2.75MW

“Do not stay within a radius of 400m (1300ft) from the turbine unless it is necessary.”

Vestas advises this for operators and technicians so maybe this should be a minimum setback for any regulations too? The Richmondville setback committee thought so after they researched issues on their own and found out the larger the setback, the fewer the problems.

Anonymous said...

r u that typo-challenged? Judging from the snide personal insult you also leveled, I think not. Hint: this is NOT the way to "make friends and inluence people".

Anonymous said...

No, not "inluence"...."influence". See? Easy to do...no incidental insults needed. Have fun Googling everybody! :)

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