As you Patriot readers of The National Patriot well know, I deal with the political landscape of national and international news but today, I’d like to take a departure from those issues of the day to let you all know about an issue that is not getting any national or international coverage.
I have always said that if you want to have an effect on national politics, the place to start is in your own corner of the world so in that light, I want to let you all in on what this Patriot has been up to on a local level.
In order to do that, I must first remove the “political” from the landscape and provide you with a bit of background on our actual landscape here in north central Nebraska.
To be specific…we live in the Nebraska Sandhills.
And what exactly are the Nebraska Sandhills, for those who have never heard of them before? Well…I’m glad you asked…
This region of our great United States is unlike any other in the country, or for that matter, unlike any other anywhere else on earth. The Sandhills are a great dessert…literally millions upon millions of acres of sand dunes…covered with native grasses…and it is the largest such landscape of its kind anywhere on the planet.
But there is more here than readily meets the eye. You see, below the surface of all this grass-covered sand, is the world’s largest fresh water aquifer…the Ogallala aquifer.
To say that the land here is fragile, is an understatement, as trails made by both buffalo and wagons, made more than 150 years ago, are to this day as fresh looking as the day they were made. That is to say, that around here, the land simply doesn’t brush off such disruptions as it might so easily do in most other places. Disturb the ground here, it will remain noticeably disturbed for centuries.
So…you might ask…what good is such land?
Well…this is cattle country and where there aren’t meadows where hay is grown to feed cattle…cattle graze on the rich grasses in this vast dessert of native grasses. In fact, here in my county, Cherry County, ranchers raise more cattle than in any other county in the nation. To be sure, the cattle far and away outnumber the people of Cherry County.
Now that you know a little more about the landscape, allow me to reintroduce the political aspect of all of this.
Right now, I am engaged with a good many land owners here in Cherry county Nebraska, in fighting against the intrusion of what has become a national liberal religion…green energy. To put a fine point on it…we are fighting against the building of well more than 400 wind turbines, wind farms…all over Cherry County and beyond as the plans for this nonsense stretch from Nebraska county to Nebraska county encompassing the entirety of the Sandhills.
Because, the proponents of this absolute BS (and believe me, here in God’s cattle country…we know BS when we see or smell it) say the winds here are a perfect fit, the Sandhills are sparsely populated and…they say that building hundreds and hundreds of wind turbines, along with their accompanying high voltage transmission towers and lines…is “progress.”
How about a refresher course on green wind energy?
The blades for the wind turbines are manufactured overseas…some in Denmark, most in China…and then they are shipped to Corpus Christi Texas on fossil fuel burning cargo ships where they are loaded onto huge fossil fuel burning trucks accompanied by at least two fossil fuel burning pilot vehicles for their long drive to our Sandhills. Once here, it will take well over 10,000 fossil fuel burning trucks to build access roads and foundations for the turbines and haul the turbine parts to where they will be erected and at least two giant fossil fuel burning cranes to set them in place. Then, over the course of their 20-25 year lifespans, it will take more and more fossil fuel burning vehicles to maintain each one of them.
In fact…it requires three times the electricity to manufacture, transport, erect and maintain a single wind turbine than that turbine will produce over its lifetime.
That’s green energy?
Now, consider this…
While the nuclear energy entities get 21% of all U.S. government subsidies…they produce 20% of our electricity. Natural gas gets 6% of the subsidies and produces 25% of the electricity. The coal industry gets 10% of our government subsidies and they produce 45% of our nation’s electricity.
This is usually where I’m interrupted by wind energy proponents telling me that all energy industry entities get subsidies so it’s really of no concern…but let me continue…
So why bring this up…other than the obvious?
Because in Germany, which has for more than a decade poured more than $1.1 TRILLION dollars into subsidizing their wind energy industry, because of EU mandates to cut carbon emissions in Germany…Germany has pulled the plug for two very important reasons. First…because even after Germany has built hundreds upon hundreds of wind farms, they have not seen a single fraction of a percentage of drop in their carbon emissions and second…because electricity produced by wind farms costs four time what electricity produced by nuclear power costs.
Now, the wind energy entities in Germany are crying and moaning because, according to them…they can’t exist, or stay in business, without being subsidized by the German government.
And how does this relate to wind farms in our country, or for that matter, in the Cherry County Sandhills of Nebraska?
Ask Omaha Nebraska’s Warren Buffet who recently told a gathering that…”I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”
How about that…building wind farms doesn’t make any sense without the tax credit…in other words…unless those who build them…get a tax credit from the government at the expense of other taxpayers…they, the wind farms, are a losing proposition.
Okay…back to the landscape for a moment…
The wind turbines planned for the Nebraska Sandhills are each 425 feet tall and the first proposed outcropping of these losing propositions is a 30 turbine wind farm near Kilgore Nebraska with more than 400 more soon to follow throughout Cherry County…but that’s not the sum total of the overall project. Down the road, as other companies get involved…you know…for the tax credits…the full proposal is for a foreseen 7,000 wind turbines covering every visible part of the Nebraska Sandhills.
That’s 7,000, 425 foot tall turbines with concrete foundations 20 feet deep scattered across a one of a kind landscape that is unrepairable and home to many rare or endangered species and in the flight path of many migratory birds.
But let me get back to the political end of this for a moment and explain just a bit about how things have gotten as far as they have with this abhorrent project.
The Cherry County Planning and Zoning Committee is the best place to start and that committee, until just a few weeks ago, was chaired by George Johnson who, over the years, has worked in various capacities…for wind development entities. His son, Eric Johnson is the head of Bluestem LLC…the very developer seeking a conditional use permit to build the first Sandhills wind farm near Kilgore Nebraska.
It gets better…
George Johnson, in putting together the requirements to be met by Bluestem LLC, sought assistance from none other than British Petroleum…a company that has diversified into the wind energy sector. Imagine that…a committee, whose job is in part, to ensure that any projects proposed will not harm the landscape or damage the fragile Sandhills area…went to a wind energy sector developer to draw up the guidelines for building wind farms in the Sandhills.
But wait…there’s more…
While Bluestem LLC was recruiting investors, and getting people to sign up to have wind turbines placed on their land, for which the land owners will be paid $9,000.00 each every year for 40 years, they required those who agreed to sign confidentiality letters so as not to allow them to talk to or divulge to their neighbors what either they, or Bluestem LLC was doing.
In all, out of more than 6,000 people in Cherry County…there are but 70 investors.
After a few initial public meetings, 6 or 7 years ago that were simply exploratory meetings, the whole thing went under the radar until just a couple of months ago when it became time for the Cherry County Planning and Zoning committee to hold a required public meeting before they voted up or down on the proposal.
After a few of those public meetings were delayed, due to Bluestem LLC and the Planning and Zoning committee’s failures to notify adjacent land owners, whose properties would be devalued by up to 55%, of the public meetings…one such meeting was held, beginning at 4pm and lasting until 10:30pm which resulted in yet another delay of the vote until a second meeting, beginning at 5pm and lasting until 2am the next morning was held.
Both meetings were rife with passionate land owners urging the committee to scrap the proposed wind farm project and also filled with facts regarding the abject unsustainability of wind power. I personally spoke at both meetings, standing shoulder to shoulder with the good people of Cherry County in their efforts to dissuade the Planning and Zoning committee from approving what would be the first of many such wind farms.
At the end of my time in the second meeting, I looked at the assembled crowd, and then at the members of the committee and told them that…”The time is now, for this committee to show that they are as good of stewards of the land in Cherry County as they purport to be and recommend to the County commissioners that this proposal for wind farms be denied…or…to prove they aren’t worth the sand under the grasses of this county by recommending the Blue Stem proposal be approved.”
After careful consideration by the committee, and even by those who had direct or indirect ties to either the wind energy entities or to those who stood to gain financially from turbines being placed on their property, the vote was a surprise…all but one member of the committee voted to suggest to the Cherry County commissioners that the project be tabled for 6 months along with a list of 5 new benchmarks which would have to be met before any approval of the project could take place. The only other member of the committee not in agreement with the recommendations…abstained from the vote.
The committee’s decision was based in part on the fact that no engineers had been retained by Bluestem LLC and that nobody was bonded for the decommissioning and removal of the wind turbines when either stopped working or were abandoned by the wind energy industry.
The Cherry County Commissioners, of whom there are but 3, one of which, Jim Van Winkle is an investor in the wind farm project, will now have to hold a public meeting before they either vote the project up or down and believe me…they will have quite a crowd there at that meeting to once again speak passionately and with facts against the building of wind farms in our corner of the world…and I will be among those adding my voice in that regard.
It is now my belief that the Cherry County Commissioners be informed by the vast majority of Cherry County residents that there should be a 6 year, not a 6 month moratorium on the building of any wind farms, wind turbines or for that matter, the issuance of any permits for either and for 2 very important reasons.
First, it would give all involved a 6 year opportunity to study every imaginable facet of building wind turbines or wind farms…from economical to environmental…from impact studies on the land and the water under it. It would provide the necessary time to study the effects of the wind turbines and their supporting high voltage transfer lines on both wildlife and domestic stock alike and to determine the effects on cattle breading as that is the primary engine of the economy around here.
And second…the tax credits paid to billionaires and their multi billion dollar companies are set to run out in 5 years. Let’s just wait and see, after those credits are long gone, how many billionaires and their companies are excited to sink their money in the losing proposition that are wind farms and that is wind energy.
Have we stopped this absurd wind farm project? No, not yet, but we are optimistic even while continuing our hard work toward that end.
The point of all this is simple…if this sort of corruption and collusion can exist in rural, sparsely populated Cherry County Nebraska, at a local level, it can exist anywhere and while far too many people trust their fate to politicians and the decisions they make…the only way to really make changes is for good people to get involved…whether at a national level or at the most basic local level and the Preserve the Sandhills group is just the sort of grass roots organization that we, as Patriots, should be attached to.
Until We the People get involved in our local politics to alter the local political landscape, we can’t have any effect on the national political landscape and to think we can affect the necessary changes by simply going to the voting booth every couple of years…is nothing but a myth…and unless we, as individuals take a stand on a personal level by staying involved…we shouldn’t expect those for whom we vote to pay much attention to us down the road.
All of this said…the wind turbine and wind farm issue here in Cherry County Nebraska is but one part of the equation…the other head on this particular beast are the high voltage transmission lines that are to be strung all across these fragile Sandhills…but I’ll leave that end of this grass roots fight for an article next week….and trust me, you don’t want to miss it.