A few months ago, when environmental organizations started urging people to reduce their use of single-use plastics like straws and plastic bags, conservatives on twitter mocked them, urging people to use more. Meanwhile, endangered whales are washing up dead on our shores, killed by ingesting thousands of pounds of plastic water bottles, bags and other trash in the ocean. The earth’s environment has taken a beating in the post-industrial age. Instead of addressing the problems, conservatives like to ridicule solutions to own the libs. 

Now, state Senator Harry Brown is owning them again by banning wind farms in North Carolina. Brown claims the wind farms threaten military bases in the state. The problem with his claim is that the military has to sign off on the those farms and they don’t have a problem. I suspect Brown and other conservatives really just have disdain for clean energy that reduces carbon output, because, like the twitter hacks who don’t believe plastics are a problem, they don’t believe climate change is a concern, either.

Brown and company can ban the farms in North Carolina but they won’t stop the wind farms off our coast. Already, companies are planning to put them off the coast near the North Carolina-Virginia border but outside of North Carolina’s jurisdiction. The hostile attitude toward wind energy is driving away potential jobs and revenue from the state. 

I suspect Brown and company still have pipe dreams of fracking and oil rigs instead of windmills. The fracking is probably never going to happen despite the legislature’s best efforts. The amount of natural gas in our shale deposits is too uncertain and the glut from states like Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Texas make drilling too risky and expensive. Maybe we’ll get oil rigs off the coast of North Carolina, but they’re a long way off and they threaten our coast with environmental impacts that could damage an already thriving tourist industry. 

Conservatives’ knee-jerk disdain for environmental measures is short-sighted and economically harmful. They claim to prefer market solutions but the market often won’t address pressing problems without a push from the government. They also claim that they don’t like the government choosing winners and losers but that’s not true, either. They routinely support powerful interests like Duke Energy with tax breaks and subsidies that allow them to pollute at the expense of taxpayers (see the coal ash dispute).

Harry Brown is making excuses for opposing wind energy that don’t hold any water. The military doesn’t have the concerns about wind farms that Brown claims. On the coast of southwest Virginia, which is easily as dependent on military bases as eastern North Carolina, companies are moving ahead with wind farms with none of Brown’s alarmism. Brown is letting an irrational bias against environmental protection get in the way of jobs and revenue that could benefit the people of North Carolina and move us toward energy independence. 


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