NRDC, wind power, and St. Lucie

A few weeks back Florida Power and Light asked NRDC to support a wind project that they have proposed for St. Lucie, Florida. Energy project siting battles take a lot of resources, and NRDC simply can't afford to get involved except in the most important and precedent setting projects. So I said, no. However, increasing the use of renewable energy is one of NRDC's priorities in general and especially in Florida, so I offered instead to send a letter emphasizing the importance of wind as a way to fight global warming and thus the need to give wind a full and fair hearing.

Poorly sited, wind farms can be environmentally destructive and there is a valid range of opinions about the visual impacts. However, the challenges of global warming and benefits of wind power are too significant for us to lightly prejudge or short circuit the necessary environmental siting review and permitting process.

That was the point I tried to make in my letter. I assumed that since I didn't say that NRDC "endorsed" or "supported" the St. Lucie project that no one would assume that we did.  And for the record, we have not taken any position on the project.

Hind sight being 20-20, I'm not surprised that some took our support for wind in general to be support for the project. And this happened in the first article that reported on our letter, which ran with the headline "Turbine plan gains support from National Resources Defense Council." (Yes, they got NRDC's name wrong both in the original article and in the corrected one.) And boy, did I hear an earful from a number of very passionate local advocates.

I have since talked to the reporter and he has corrected the story with this one.

I have also since read this article in NRDC's Onearth Magazine, which mentions that NRDC is working with the Surfrider Foundation to help protect the coastline of...where else but St. Lucie County. The article paints a compelling picture of a beautiful part of the country at high risk from global warming and poor environmental management.

I have no idea if the site that FLP has proposed for St. Lucie is a suitable site for wind, but we all--even the most passionate defenders of our local environment--have to struggle  with what we can do to help fight global warming. If we say no to a wind farm or solar panels or some other solution to global warming, we have to think long and hard about where else those technologies should go and what other solutions we can do locally.

We cannot afford to sacrifice our natural treasures or fragile and endangered ecosystems in our fight against global warming. The cure must not be worse than the disease. But there are going to be tough decisions to make, and the fight against global warming is not one that we can afford to lose.