As many of you know, I and many others have been working tirelessly to put an end to the Lava Ridge Wind Project, currently under consideration for approval by the BLM. The multi-billion dollar corporation, LS Power – currently identified as Magic Valley Energy — is the purveyor of this atrocity coming to our land. Other than the name, the only aspect of MVE that has any connections to the Magic Valley, is two local employees. LS Power is trying to woo and lure the naïve people of Idaho with their seductive Siren song of money, jobs, and green energy production. LS Power is a smooth-talking harlot; it differs only from the aspect that their representatives wear nicer clothes and don’t stand on a street corner. The outcome is the same – somebody is getting screwed…
I have been reading through the 1200+ page Environmental Impact Statement, trying to formulate “substantive” comments as required by the BLM during the public comment period. I have spent hour after hour, day after day, searching for the ONE thing that would put an end to this monstrosity that threatens to eventually consume the entire Magic Valley (there are several more wind and solar projects with applications waiting in the wings to be submitted to the BLM for consideration, should the Lava Ridge project be approved). Much is at stake and there is a lot to lose, so I have a sense of urgency that I must get this right. Put it all on the line. Sacrifice much – both time and money. I must find the ONE thing…
That is the dilemma. The more I read, the more I study, the more I examine the monumental tome, the more angry, upset, and distraught I get. You see, there is not just ONE thing. Not just ONE concern. Not just ONE impact…not ONE, but many, various and sundry, negative impacts to ALL aspects of the Magic Valley.
The Lava Ridge Wind Project (LRWP) will adversely impact the Japanese-American community because the 197,000 acre project site will be within the vicinity of the Minidoka War Relocation Center and National Historic Site. These monuments serve as a reminder of the atrocities meted out on the Japanese-American community. The MWRC and MNHS are vitally important to people like Janet and Dan, whose families were incarcerated there not too long ago. Where are the Social Justice Warriors? We must not forget…we must not intrude on the somber atmosphere…we must not destroy their history. One would think that this would be the ONE thing that would quash the Lava Ridge project….
The LRWP will adversely affect the wildlife that makes the Lava Ridge area its home. The deer, pronghorn, elk, Pygmy rabbit, to name a few. The construction of 486 miles of new roads throughout the area will greatly fragment the natural habitat and displace the wildlife, as well as decrease the vegetation these animals rely upon to survive. Construction of this project will require 525 days of blasting with 126,000 pounds of the high explosive, ANFO. Unlike the low explosives, black powder and smokeless powder, which function by “pushing” objects out of place, a high explosive act by shattering and destroying, unleashing tremendous noise and shock waves. Will this violence cause the wildlife to flee, never to return? Will the decision makers at the BLM listen to men like Jerry, a man that has hunted on that land for decades, when he says the LRWP will be detrimental to wildlife? Will the bureaucrats listen? Is this the ONE thing that will put an end to the scourge of wind turbines?
The LRWP will be sited directly on top of the fragile Snake River Plains Aquifer. The SRPA supplies water to hundreds of thousands of residents. What impact will 525 days of blasting have on our precious aquifer? What happens if it is irreversibly damaged? How will LS Power mitigate their way out of destroying and/or contaminating the source of our water? Do humans matter? Will the BLM listen to men like Brian, Terry, and Gar – men that have vast knowledge and experience with water issues and the aquifer? How does MVE account for the discrepancy in their water usage calculations. Those with a water background have calculated a much greater water usage than MVE has determined. These experts have voiced concerns regarding the aquifer. What happens if private wells are damaged or contaminated? People like Julia and Sergio – whose land and well are near the project site – do their lives and property matter? Is the potential for harm to our source of water the ONE thing that will end the nightmare about to descend upon us?
How will the flying creatures be impacted by the LRWP? Studies of wind turbine projects throughout this country and others, have shown that wind turbines are responsible for enormous numbers of casualties to birds, bats, and insects. One turbine can kill up to 40 million insects per year. Tens of thousands of birds and bats suffer the same fate. Countries like Germany are moving away from wind energy because the high number of casualties of flying things is leading to many species becoming threatened. What’s the big deal about killing a lot of insects you ask? Well, our food supply depends upon insects for pollination. Without pollinators, we can’t survive. One insect that will be impacted by the LRWP is the Monarch Butterfly. Hundreds of acres of Monarch breeding grounds are located within the project site. In 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the Monarch as Endangered. Will the BLM listen to people like Marsha and Craig, individuals that have raised concerns about the beloved insect? Where are the environmentalists? Where is Greta? Where are the groups that normally appear, threatening lawsuits against the mining, timber and petroleum industries over the possibility of those types of projects leading to the extinction of lesser-known species? The Delta Smelt…the Spotted Owl…the Sage Grouse, etc?. Is the possibility of the Monarch Butterfly becoming extinct the ONE thing that will curtail this bad idea?
Speaking of flying things, surveys of the impacts the LRWP will have on bats and eagles, reveals that 1,800 – 15,496 bats will be killed per year- that’s 61,200 to 526,864 dead bats over the 34-year lifespan of the project. Also, according to the EIS, 13.31 golden eagles and 0.56 bald eagles will be Ginsu’d – that is, sliced and diced- per year. If you or I collected just a single feather from a bald eagle, we would face certain imprisonment in the federal pen. Not LS Power – they are able to obtain eagle kill permits from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. If they exceed the permitted eagle kills per year, they just pay a fine. —On a side note, if the surveys show that 0.56 of an eagle will be killed per year, what happened to the 0.44 portion of the eagle? Is it flying around out there somewhere? If you spot it, let me know. I could probably make a fortune selling tickets to see it at a circus side show. Anyways, do the avian and bat fatalities concern anyone? I know Mr. T, a gentleman who penned a moving piece titled “Meadowlark on a Windmill” cares. Is the death to eagles, a federally protected bird, the ONE thing that will show LS Power to the door?
The LRWP will infringe upon the lives and livelihoods of many people that make a living from the land. The cattlemen will have to move their cattle from their BLM allotments during the construction of the project. These people have used this land for generations. Where will their herds be displaced to? Where will they acquire feed? Several farmers and dairymen will be surrounded by the wind turbines, essentially being imprisoned by the looming spires. How will the EMFs, turbine vibrations, and noise, impact their livestock? Their health? People like John, Dean, Perry, Richard and Shawna – what becomes of them? Their property rights? Their health and happiness? Do the bureaucrats care? This likely ISN’T the ONE thing that terminates the creation of the pending hell-scape because we all should become vegans and eat bugs anyways.
The LRWP will alter the way aerial fire suppression and agricultural applicators perform their duties. The imposition of up to 740-foot-tall structures on the landscape will dramatically increase the already inherent danger to the pilots. Who will be liable for the loss of life or limb, should one of these pilots collide with these Godzilla’s? Will LS Power have to pay for the losses? LS Power plans to install lighting atop the turbines that will only come on when the aircraft sensors detect an oncoming plane. These sensors are a mechanical device that can and will fail (that’s firearms safety 101 – don’t rely upon the safety to operate 100% of the time-it is a mechanical device that can and will fail, so don’t point your gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy). If the sensors and/or lights fail, who or what will be destroyed? Does the BLM care about Mark or Randy – men that make their living with their aircraft? Is liability the ONE thing that will abort the proposal?
According to the air quality surveys in the EIS, there will be an increase in air pollution during the project’s construction. This will be from the estimated 2.2 MILLION vehicle trips per year on the newly constructed roads, the heavy machinery used to haul and construct the turbines, the excessive blasting, and the many diesel generators that will be in operation for the duration of the construction. One of the pollutants is Sulfur Dioxide. It is estimated that 64.76% of the SO2 and other sulfur oxides in the air in Jerome County will be attributed to the construction period of the LRWP. SOs can harm the human respiratory system, especially in people with asthma and in vulnerable children. SOs can harm plants and trees by damaging foliage and decreasing growth. But no worries…according to the EPA, the levels of sulfur oxides in the air will still fall within “safe” levels. This same EPA has also said the air was fine in Palestine, Ohio. I’m sure the residents of that community beg to differ. Will LS Power be held liable for the potential increase in respiratory ailments? Is this the ONE thing that will put an end to Lava Ridge?
The LRWP will be situated on the Bureau of Land Management ground. This is PUBLIC land. According to their mission statement, the BLM is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations”. The addition of almost 500 miles of roads will result in thousands of acres of ground disturbance and will increase the spread and occurrence of invasive weed species. To mitigate this, LS Power will utilize BLM-approved herbicides. These can include products like Roundup and 2,4-D amine. Don’t get me wrong – I love to use the stuff in my own yard. But how will the use of these chemicals on tens of thousands of acres, for 34 years (the lifespan of the project), sustain the health of public lands and the health of the public that utilizes the same land for enjoyment and recreational purposes? Will the health of people like Ruth, Diana, Ted, Carol, Stephanie, Terry and many others be harmed? Is this the ONE thing that will prohibit the project from being approved?
The list of detrimental impacts that our beautiful Magic Valley will sustain if the Lava Ridge Wind Project is allowed to proceed is endless. I didn’t touch on the fallacies of wind energy being “green”, efficient, or inexpensive. It is none of these things.
Ask Pete how he feels about his power bill doubling when he and other residents of Power County were sold a bill of goods about the merits of wind energy and agreed to bring a project there. And Mrs. K experienced a reduction in her property value when the big machines came to her town in the Palouse area of WA.
I didn’t touch on the human rights abuses that occur in the mining of the rare-earth elements (cobalt, lithium, nickel, etc.) needed for the turbine and battery storage components – The modern-day slave and child labor that we euphemistically call “artisanal miners”-does anyone hear the cries of anguish and suffering, coming from the Congolese children as they lie dying in their own blood? All so you can virtue signal and drive your electric vehicle? Do the bureaucrats care about the unfortunate people in Katanga (Congo) and Lakota (Indonesia) that are dying from the pollution and poor working conditions that these mines produce? Do Black and Brown lives matter?
I didn’t touch on how land-intensive wind farms are. It takes 700 times the amount of land as a natural gas facility to produce the same amount of energy. The ancient forests in Germany and Sweden are being clear cut to make way for the bird-killing machines. I thought we were supposed to be against the clear-cutting of our forests. I guess that only applies to the timber industry (timber, by the way, is a renewable resource) and I guess it’s okay to destroy the environment if you’re trying to save the environment.
As for efficiency, the standard energy production capacity of wind turbines is 35%. That means wind turbines only produce energy 35% of the time. That is why your power bill goes up when wind is your source of energy. To keep the power grid operating 24/7, wind (and solar) energy always needs a secondary source of power because they are unreliable and intermittent. Reliable sources of energy such as coal, natural gas, hydropower, fossil fuels, or nuclear energy are used as the “backups” to wind energy. It’s expensive to maintain two different sources of energy production. This is why companies like Microsoft and Facebook are opposed to a large wind farm proposed in Iowa where they maintain data storage centers. These centers use an enormous amount of energy. The mega-giant companies don’t want their energy costs to go up.
In an ironic twist to the story of wind turbines, Miss Greta managed to get herself arrested again. Why? Because she was protesting Wind Turbines! It turns out that the reindeer in
Norway don’t like wind turbines too much. The reindeer disappeared from the region when the monsters sprung up. The indigenous Sami tribe that inhabits the area relies on the reindeer for their sustenance. Miss Thunberg says that the transition away from fossil fuels cannot come at the expense of indigenous rights. The rabble rouser appears to care about humans after all.
Eureka! That’s it….! The ONE thing! The impact the LRWP will have on indigenous people. Several Native American Tribes will be negatively harmed by the Lava Ridge Wind Project. The project location contains a multitude of spiritually and culturally significant resources that are protected by the Tribes’ treaty rights. And that, my friend, trumps all other considerations! STOP LAVA RIDGE NOW!