The Pentagon is not backing down on its claim that clusters of huge wind turbines springing up across the land are a threat to military operations and national security in general. To the contrary, the Department of Defense has made itself the biggest obstacle to the development of wind energy in the United States.
A report in today’s New York Times includes this mind-boggling statistic: last year, DOD succeeded in blocking projects that would have generated an estimated 9000 MW of wind power—nearly as much as the total amount of wind-energy capacity that actually was built in 2009. Faced with the prospect of taking on the military-industrial complex, many developers either abandoned or delayed their wind-farm plans.
Projects that came under fire from the big five-sided building in Washington have included wind farms in the Columbia River Gorge and turbines planned for the Great Lakes Region. More recently, the Pentagon has turned its guns on plans to erect the nation’s largest wind-energy combine in the Mojave Desert in California.
The military says the largest wind turbines, which can be as high as 400 feet, are indistinguishable from airplanes on radar and can even cause “blackout” zones in which aircraft disappear from radar entirely. Clusters of wind turbines can look like storm activity on weather radar, the generals say, making it harder for air traffic controllers to give accurate weather information to pilots. DOD maintains that wind turbines pose an “unacceptable” risk to training, testing and even national security in certain regions.
In an interview with the Times, Gary Siefert, who has been studying the radar-wind energy clash at the Idaho National Laboratory (a U.S. Department of Energy facility), called the argument between the military and the emerging wind-energy industry “the train wreck” of the new century. “The train wreck is the competing resources for two national needs: energy security and national security,” he said.
Before things get out of hand—and a 2010 version of Gen. Ripper orders Air Force pilots to start using U.S. wind turbines for target practice—we have a few questions for the Joint Chiefs:
— Regarding the alleged threat to national security, are you really going to wait until enemy jets reach the Great Lakes before you shoot them down?
— You say wind turbines will cause our aircraft to “disappear” from radar. Haven’t we spent billions on stealth technology to make our aircraft disappear from radar?
— If wind turbines look like aircraft on radar, won’t this help prevent our pilots from flying into them?
— Since most of our potential adversaries also are building wind turbines, isn’t it a good idea to train our pilots to fly around them?
— Exactly what are you doing training over the Great Lakes? Are you practicing bombing runs over Cleveland?
— Since the U.S. military is the nation’s largest consumer of petroleum-based jet fuel—and has only begun to study whether biofuels can power jet fighters—aren’t most of our military jets going to be on the ground most of the time because it’s too expensive to fly them?
— Where are the wind turbine countermeasures?
— You mean to tell us you haven’t set up a Strategic Wind Defense Initiative? What are you waiting for, the Chinese to mount an attack on Nebraska by selling us turbine blades designed to emit ultrasonic death blasts? Are you going to let our precious bodies of water be defiled by an invasion of offshore windmills?
— Don’t you realize our very way of life is under attack? We don’t even have wind shelters!
WE ARE DEFENSELESS AND THE TURBINES ARE ADVANCING IN COLUMNS! IT’S TIME TO GO TO DEFCON 5!! MOBILIZE THE TROOPS, GET ALL OF OUR BIRDS IN THE SKY!!!
What’s that you say, Gen. Ripper? You can’t open the gates at the base because there’s a power outage? Congress didn’t pay the electric bill?
No problem. The new 10,000-MW wind-energy grid will be up and running in a few weeks and you’ll be back in business before you know it.