Sen. Alexander: Enough With the Hot Air, Stop Bashing Wind Power

Yet again, Tennessee senior senator, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), has channelled his inner Don Quixote and is tilting at windmills – well, wind turbines to be exact.  Just this week he took to the Senate floor in Washington, D.C. to bash wind energy using his same old outdated arguments. Sen. Alexander has now set his sites on a proposed wind farm in Cumberland County, TN.

In his latest anti-wind campaign, Sen. Alexander used a photo of a poorly planned and outdated Palm Springs, CA wind project to bolster his claim that the proposed Crab Orchard Wind Project, pursued by Apex Clean Energy, would ruin the scenic views and environment in Cumberland County. But where is Sen. Alexander’s outrage with actual projects in Tennessee that are currently ruining communities’ scenic views and threatening the surrounding environment???

Just next door to Cumberland County is Roane County, home to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal plant. Kingston has two massive smokestacks that can be seen from miles and miles away and are, in fact, no longer even operational because they have outdated air pollution controls. Not to mention, the already devastating damage the coal plant has wreaked on the surrounding community thanks to the 2008 Kingston coal ash disaster.

TVA's Kingston coal plant in Roane County, TN


In a press statement put out yesterday, Sen. Alexander proudly states “If there is one thing Tennesseans agree on, it is pride in the natural beauty of our state….We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it.” Yet, Sen. Alexander is a strong proponent of risky nuclear energy and conveniently ignores both the visual impact of nuclear plants and the significant threats to the surrounding community and environment in the event of a nuclear disaster.

TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Rhea County, TN


Just below Cumberland County is Rhea County, home to TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear plant. Sen. Alexander has applauded TVA for finally finishing construction at its 30+ year old Watts Bar nuclear plant, despite the fact the project was completed after spending went far over budget. Conveniently, Sen. Alexander ignores the fact that the nuclear industry has been the beneficiary of federal financial support far longer than renewable energy and is “encouraged by billions in wasteful taxpayer subsidies” – words Sen. Alexander used to bash wind energy but more accurately describes wasteful spending on risky nuclear.

SACE polling has already shown that Tennesseans vastly support clean energy –  in fact, 83% support increasing the use of renewable energy like wind and solar power in Tennessee! While it doesn’t seem likely that Sen. Alexander will ever change his mind about wind energy, we remain hopeful that Tennesseans will be able to see through Sen. Alexander’s hot air and educate themselves about the benefits of truly clean energy, like wind, solar and energy efficiency, and the risks of dirty energy, like nuclear and coal.

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Wind power isn’t perfect but it’s a danged sight better than the nuclear that Senator Alexander promotes and is certainly safer than any of the other fossil fuels. I suspect the good Senator’s motives lie in his extensive investments in mountain property and the rather large donations he has received from the nuclear fuel and disposal industry.

I do take one serious exception to this article in that Kingston Tennessee was NOT destroyed, devastated, or harmed in any long term way by the geological event known as the TVA ASH Spill. We did lose 6 years of our lives to the damned thing, which could have been prevented by a strong TDEC or a competent TVA.

I object to and am angered by SACE’s use of photos showing the Kingston ash disaster without an accompanying photo showing the beauty that has replaced it. Today, we have parks, tails, ball fields, and a recovered lake where our recreation industry has returned. True, it has cost TVA customers well over a Billion dollars to make our environment whole, but whole we are. We could use a little help getting the word out, if SACE would b so kind as to let the world know we are recovered and a fabulous place to live and recreate instead of portraying us as eternal victims of TVA and Coal.

It does bear mentioning that the courts found TVA completely responsible for its ash disaster but also found that the law does not allow TVA’s victims to force TVA to make them whole. TVA made a token settlement that was a fraction of the true damages to Roane County. Senator Alexander wants us to turn to nuclear energy, the disasters of which cannot ever be recovered from and an industry run by an entity that could not safely pile dirt.

The ironies are magnificent.

Comment by WhitesCreek on May 19, 2016 7:10 pm

[…] • Sen. Lamar Alexander's concern for natural beauty doesn't seem to apply to energy projects other than wind. (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy) • […]

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