Plans by a New York company, LS Power, to put up as many as 400 soaring wind turbines on 76,000 acres (about 12 square miles) on federal land outside of Twin Falls, Idaho have sparked outrage among local residents and officials, as well as the state’s governor.
Known as Lava Ridge, the wind project is part of the Biden administration’s goal of producing 25 gigawatts of renewable energy on federal land by 2025. LS Power claims construction of Lava Ridge will pump $500 million into the local economy, produce $4 million in local taxes, and generate enough power to supply as many as 300,000 homes.
Locals, however, fear that the giant turbines with their spinning rotors will blight the area’s picturesque high-desert scenery, with its sagebrush, cheatgrass, and outcroppings of lava from long-dormant volcanoes.
Ranchers who lease allotments from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to run their cattle near the proposed site believe that Lava Ridge, which would be one of the nation’s largest wind projects, will forever change the area’s character, and not for the better.
“This is bulbous bluegrass. And there are all kinds of native species out there, too,” rancher John Arkoosh told NPR (Feb. 24). “There are seven different ranches that ran on this allotment alone. My own, there are four generations, four families who depend on this area for our livelihoods.”
The developer says it can mitigate the damage to the ranchers, but it’s not finding many takers.
Not at Arlington National Cemetery or the Washington Mall
Karen Misako Hiria Olen also opposes the wind project, but for an entirely different reason. She is descended from Japanese-Americans who were interned in a make-shift camp in the area during World War ll. The camp housed 13,000 prisoners and is now a national historical site. Hirai told NPR that the nearby turbines would fundamentally change the experience of going there and imagining the hardships of the incarcerated.
“They wouldn’t build this outside of Arlington National Cemetery. They wouldn’t build this on the Washington Mall. And to me, this site is just too sacred,” she said. “Just based on basic human rights, I have to oppose this.”
Interior Secretary Deb Haarland recently boasted that her department had granted permits to 130 wind, solar, and geothermal projects on federal land. BLM is expected to make a final decision on the taxpayer-subsidized Lava Ridge project in Idaho by the fall. Given the Biden administration’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels and replacing them with wind and solar power, that decision is likely to favor the developer.
That, however, will not be the end of it. LS Power and BLM can look forward to a raft of lawsuits challenging the Idaho wind project. If nothing else, they will delay the project for years, and add to the cost of Lava Ridge. Similar lawsuits against wind and solar developments across the country – and against offshore wind farms – have prompted some frustrated developers to throw up their hands and walk away.
- Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.
- Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments.
- Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country.
- He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada.
- He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh.
- He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.
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