Opponents of wind farms hold information session

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Just hours after the first industrial wind turbine was completed Monday in Osage County, opponents of two area wind-energy developments vowed to continue their efforts to halt construction of the projects.

Speakers offered insights into dangers they claim wind farms will pose for the prairie lands west of Pawhuska where the projects are being constructed by TradeWind Energy, a Lenexa, Kan.-based branch of an international energy corporation.

Personal, and sometimes graphic, information about alleged dangers posed by the 400-foot wind turbines was shared during a two-hour seminar. More than 60 citizens attended the public meeting, which was held from 6-8 p.m. at the Constantine Theater. The event was sponsored by Protect Osage Coalition.

Threats posed to wildlife — in particular, the bald eagles and prairie chickens of the area — received special attention. Evidence about negative effects the wind farms have on people and the environment was presented via speakers and film.

Among the guest speakers were Bob Hamilton from Osage County’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and Don Wolfe of the Sutton Avian near Bartlesville. Wolfe explained the complex dangers that towers and transmission lines pose to raptors and nesting birds. Hamilton called the location of the wind farms created conflicts and negative impact possiblities that should be avoided.

“To have this (wind farm) project where it’s at is completely inappropriate,” Hamilton said.

Rick Mosier of the OK Property Rights Association told of possible crippling effects that subsidies to the wind power industry could have on the state economy and the financial well-being of school districts where the wind farms are located.

“Regardless of what they might say, the wind industry will not contribute anything to our schools,” said Mosier, a longtime member of a Rogers County school board.

Mosier said the wind industry is totally unregulated in Oklahoma, but called the state’s wind energy tax credits “the greatest in the nation.”

“And, I’ll guarantee there are 13 registered wind-energy lobbyists walking the halls at the Capitol today,” Mosier added.

Canadian County, Okla., resident Tammy Huffstutlar spoke about how turbines placed on her neighbors’ property has caused a marked reduction in the quality of life for her and her family.

One of the citizens who spoke at the meeting said the Osage Nation should unite and make a stand against the wind-farm threat. Another said it was time to “take up the tomahawk” to stop wind development in Osage County.

Osage attorney Wilson Pipestem admitted that wind energy “is a good thing, but we believe this is the wrong site,” he said.

“We have a long way to go before this is going to over,” said Pipestem.