Never has anything divided the environmental community as much as the wind turbines. While we all agree that something has to be done to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, we can't agree on the best way to tackle it. The latest plan to put 40 to 120 turbines in Lake Erie has put us all to the test.
There is no "why or where." Why in the lake? Where will they be? The lake is narrow; you will see them from any point. No one will say where the power will go or how it will get to the grid. What is the total amount?
I have worked for more than 40 years cleaning and preserving our great lake, fighting diversion, invasive species, phosphates and anything else thrown in. Now I wonder about the cause and effect. We know you don't mess with Mother Nature and have seen her fury. When the boulders from the rapid transit system were dropped on the shore, we had no sand until they were removed. When streams are attempted to be rerouted, they go right back where they were.
What will happen to our water currents when these behemoths are set into our basin? What about the contaminants that have settled after decades and have a sand cap isolating them? What will stop the ice floes from crashing into the 200-foot metal giants? What do you think will happen when a fisherman drags his anchor across the electric cable? What about night? Will they be lit? (Look online to see a turbine deconstruct and watch the lubricating oil explode.)
This project from the New York State Power Authority has never been done in fresh water before. Are we ready to sacrifice our drinking water for power? We can live without electricity; we can't live without water.
Another concern is the electromagnetic field. Our area has one of the highest incidences of multiple sclerosis and cancer. If we put transfer stations on the shoreline, how will this affect our health?
The proposed Great Lakes Offshore Wind project has no benefit to the residents of Erie County. It will not reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, it will be costly to taxpayers and the potential risks to the environment are great. The towers will have a negative impact on our navigation systems as well as discourage tourism. Wind energy is not green -- it is unpredictable and variable. In 10 years, when the incentives and tax subsidies end and the developer moves on, what will we be left with?
Considering how close we are to Niagara Falls, we shouldn't have to make any tradeoffs. We also might ask why this project was turned down in Long Island -- is Buffalo again getting the shaft? The only time we get a nod from Albany is when it is taking our natural resources.
Sharen Trembath is Lake Erie coordinator for Great Lakes Beach Sweep/International Coastal Cleanup.