President Obama and his EPA and Energy Department seem intent upon forcing wind power technology down our throats. Not that this is a new tactic of this administration, but it is just another example of blind pursuit of an ideology based upon warm fuzzy goals in spite of cruel nasty reality. Essentially, they want us to support and accept an energy source that costs more, generates less, has miserable reliability and oh, wait a minute...Is causing an environmental apocalypse in parts of...China.
If you visit the Government website Windpoweringamerica.gov you will see a slick Department of Energy presentation of graphs, charts, wind maps and "success stories" related to wind power projects in the United States. You can download "feasibility" software and click on such links as: "Where is Wind" and "How do I get Wind?"
The site even has an employment opportunity link. Since we have all been told that clean energy is a job creator, I was eager to see the thousands of listing that would surely be there. Sorry, only one in Colorado dated 01/18/2011. But I digress...
The subject of this post is the story of massive environmental damage being done to produce the raw components used in construction of wind turbines. In an article from UK's Daily Mail , it was revealed that China is the number one producer of neodymium magnets, the key part of any wind turbine. Each turbine uses up to 4,400lb of neodymium-based permanent magnet material produced through a primitive, dirty smelting process that is laying thousands of acres of once productive farmland to waste.
Toxic sludge ponds are causing respiratory sickness and elevated cancer rates in nearby cities, and one can only guess at the long term damage to the environment as heavy metals, acids and radioactivity are released into the air and ground. Yet environmentalists in Great Britain, seem unconcerned at the potential effects. When asked about damage to the environment caused by construction and use of wind turbines, Craig Bennett, director of policy and campaigns at Friends of the Earth said:
"No way of generating energy is 100 per cent clean and problem-free. Wind energy causes far fewer problems than coal, gas or nuclear... But we need to ensure the use of materials like neodymium...is kept to a minimum, that turbines use recycled materials wherever possible and that they are carefully sited to reduce the already minimal impact on bird populations."
Ah, yes...the birds. Friends of the Earth are concerned with birds, but not the lives of Chinese humans. Environmental wackos in the United States share similar priorities. After all, China is a world away, and really not our concern. That is a strange philosophy from a mind set that wants to protect the Antarctic ice shelf, or believes human actions have altered and can change natural climate fluctuation.
I will be the first to admit that things can get better. In the next twenty to fifty years we may see new discoveries and advancements in truly clean energy production. With a little luck, they may actually be efficient and profitable. But as of today, wind power in the United States or Great Britain is not clean energy. As long as it contributes to ill health and environmental damage in another part of the world, it is the dirtiest and most costly of energy sources.
Originally posted on 02/13/2011 at ConservativeCompass.com