So much for the argument that renewables don’t compromise our national security the way fossil fuels do – but try telling
an environmentalist as much. While it was first reported more than a year ago that wind farms were interfering with military radar, making airplanes disappear from sight on screens and cluttering those same screens with the blade-rotation changes of turbine blades, not much was said on the matter until this month, when the Department of Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) proudly unveiled the Renewable Energy and Defense Database. The REDD is an interactive tool that allows renewable-energy developers to locate military installations with a view toward avoiding them in deciding where to construct future projects.
According to a Nov. 9 DoD press release, the “labor-intensive, very time-consuming project” was primarily an effort of the NRDC and didn’t cost the federal government a dime. Unfortunately, this assessment fails to take into account the hefty national security toll wind farms have already taken - and will likely continue to take unless the current premium placed on “green” energy isn’t removed.
As of 2008, wind turbines had compromised almost 40 percent of U.S. long-range radar systems
). Here’s just one example of how: In 2007, two wind-farm projects slated for the area near Travis Air Force Base in northern California came before the county planning commission. The base and a county airport land-use body sought to have the projects delayed until turbines’ effects on radars could be further studied. But when, the following year, a project supporter donated $1 million to the base, Col. Steven Arquiette, commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, “was told by his superiors to accept the money and withdraw his complaints,”according
to Masterresource.org blogger Lisa Linowes, despite the fact that nothing about the plans had changed substantially.
Now pilots coming in to Travis are urged to turn on their aircraft’s transponders as a way of announcing their presence, since they still cannot be seen on radar. This poses a sizeable security threat given that it could easily be emulated by terrorists – and has been. As Linowes notes, among the first actions the Sept. 11 perpetrators did was turn off the transponders of the planes they hijacked.
Wind farms have also dramatically slowed the Federal Aviation Administration’s review time for project proposals. While it once took a month for construction of a project to be approved or be declared hazardous, now similar projects stand to wait up to three times that long.
We need look no further than the European Union’s disastrous “20/20/20” energy policy for a crystal-ball glance into what our future could be like should we continue down this reckless “green” path. The EU plan seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 1990’s levels. Not only is it likely to cost the union up to $250 billion a year, it has forced the EU to rely on gas from Russia because gas is less polluting than coal. Here’s what Russia’s been up to lately, in case anyone thought it had turned some sort of trustworthy corner: After refusing to support new sanctions against Iran, it hosted an Iranian security-council official for talks about Iran’s nuclear program. Nice.
Hope in wind as a replacement for proven, reliable, abundant and, most importantly domestic, fuels is the energy equivalent of trying to ram a square peg into a round hole. Rather than continue with this misguided boondoggle that is costing us in more ways than one, the United States should be turning its attention to the resources it has readily available thanks to recent technologies. Hydraulic fracturing is one of these; in the past five years advances in “fracking” technology
has seen accessible natural gas reserves grow by 30 percent, according to the Institute for Energy Research.
The Marcellus Shale
, which stretches across southern New York, western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia, is one of the largest natural-gas fields in North America. With recent estimates putting its contents at 500 trillion cubic feet of gas, the Marcellus has the potential to meet U.S. demand for energy for decades. And by some estimates, the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana could have an output of 1 million barrels of shale oil per day by 2020. In North Dakota alone the shale-gas industry employs about 30,000, a number that could surge to 100,000 if production continues to climb.
We have within our reach the potential for energy independence. We need to follow the example from countries that have used innovative, market driven solutions. Take Brazil, once excessively reliant on foreign oil and suffered great heart burn from the 1973 oil crisis, since then Brazil has been a trailblazer in alternative energy production. Though impoverished to US standards, Brazil turned toward its own domestic markets and was visionary enough to create new ones where needed, all so that it could be independent from oil-politics.
Today Brazil is largely energy independent while the US imports a larger percentage of oil than it did before 1973. Nevertheless, there is still time and opportunity for the US. It’s time we grabbed it.