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Oklahoma lawmakers are doing something about those pesky wind farms

8:30 AM EST on February 25, 2014

Wind Turbines at the Weatherford Wind Energy Center at Weatherford, Oklahoma 5

Wind farms are an eyesore. When I drive past the wind farms in Western Oklahoma, they fill me with rage. Why can't wind farms be as calming and peaceful as an abandoned oil well or pump jack?

Luckily Senate Pro Tempore Brian Bingman feels the same way I do. He's leading legislation to block them from being built anywhere to the east of I-35.


Western Oklahoma is on the forefront of U.S. wind energy development, and has been for more than a decade. But as wind farm projects creep east, they’re meeting more resistance from landowners and increased involvement from the state legislature.

On Feb. 14, StateImpact reported on the current effort to strengthen laws that require wind energy companies to pay for the decommissioning of turbines, and limit the distance turbines can be from homes without consent from homeowners.

That bill passed out of the Senate Energy Committee, and on Thursday, that same committee passed Senate Bill 1440, which would put a moratorium on the construction of any new wind farms east of Interstate 35 until 2017....

[Senate President Pro Tempore Brian] Bingman said the bill is still a work in progress and may be refined to better describe areas that could come under a moratorium.

Bingman told the paper more study of the impact to wildlife is needed, and the concerns of local residents who could be affected by development fleshed out before more construction takes place:

“They really haven’t been outside of western Oklahoma, but some of these wind farms are moving closer to more densely populated areas,” Bingman said. “The attitudes to wind farms are different in those parts of the state.”

The bill directs the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment to work with other state agencies to study wind potential in eastern Oklahoma, along with access to transmission, how development might affect wildlife and public support of the industry.

Thank you, Brian Bingman, for saving us from ourselves! Remember that terrible turbine incident of '04? It was tragic. The turbine fell over and leaked wind everywhere. Volunteers had to spend weeks scrubbing dust off wildlife.

So what are some of the arguments against wind farms:

• They hurt property values. I'm not a realtor, but this is probably true. Then again, if people could get rich off them like they could fossil fuels, that wouldn't matter. Let's not kid ourselves, it's Western Oklahoma, taking a dump on the ground increase property value out there.

• They kill birds. Yeah, this is probably true as well. But how many birds have met their demise by running into the side of the Devon Tower? Was Senator Bingman worried about the birdies when it was being built? Also, birds are dumb.

• They are loud. I seriously don't know if this is true or not. I just think giant turbines look awesome. I would be willing to bet they are quieter than a coal power plant.

• They make humans sick. I know most of our elected officials hate science, but there is an interesting article here that says it's safe.

No one is advocating that wind be our only source of power, but wind is clean. Cleaner than natural gas, even! I think having more clean energy is a good thing and it makes me sad that our legislature is so deep in the pocket of oil and gas that they would sandbag wind energy.

If you are interested in jokes about breaking wind, follow me on twitter, @SpencerLenox.

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