There was an article recently in the Oregonian, “Lawsuit against wind energy project near Steens Mountain pits green groups against green project“. After reading the article it became clear that there is just no pleasing some people.
I am skeptical of “green” energy, particularly wind farms, especially in Oregon where we have an abundance of hydroelectricity. I am unsure of its cost vs. production, the necessity of them, subsidies they receive, particularly when they get paid not to produce, and overall efficiency.
However the groups opposing the Echanis project weren’t objecting because of the concerns I shared. In fact, I was really unsure what or why they were upset. My first thought is apparently they’ve never been to Harney County or Southeastern Oregon because, well, there’s nothing really there in terms of people or jobs. Also they apparently failed to notice that the wind farm would be on PRIVATE land.
Harney County is Oregon’s lowest populated county with little over 7,400 residents and the unemployment is 12.5 percent. According to the article, “…the Echanis project to provide 100 construction jobs and up to 12 full-time maintenance jobs…equal to about 1,500 jobs in Portland…”
The United States government has approved the project and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published an Environmental Impact Statement on the project. If this project was not environmentally friendly our current administration would have shut it down. The Oregonian reports that the project would be on a 10,000 acre private ranch and have 44 miles of transmission lines. In Harney county those numbers are miniscule, particularly when comparing it to the 170,000 acre Steens Mountain Wilderness area.
The real issue here is not about the potential effect to the environment. It is about a group of people out of urban Oregon, Portland, Bend and Eugene, trying to dictate how to rural Oregonians how to live. They have no idea what it takes to be sustainable in Southeastern Oregon, an area that is not mild in climate nor the type of work it takes to survive. If the residents of Harney County thought it was not good for them nor the environment they would oppose it themselves, they don’t need a weekend warrior telling them so. They’ve been there a lot longer than you have.
“Green” groups if you truly care about a “green” economy, jobs and others overall well-being, then move your Prius out-of-the-way and let rural Oregonians go to work.