If all goes according to plan, Magic Valley Energy will soon be installing up to 400, 740-foot-tall wind turbines, 485 miles of new roads, miles and miles of transmission lines, and buildings filled with half-ton battery modules on upwards of 197,000 acres at Lava Ridge in southwestern Idaho.
The company is named after a beautiful valley that soon won’t be nearly so magical.
The acreage is equal to 15 percent of Delaware, and the turbines, at 740 feet tall, are larger than the Washington Monument — an appropriate comparison because the project is being advanced in cooperation with a climate-obsessed Biden administration determined to replace fossil fuels with “clean” energy.
For the administration, saving the planet from computer models of manmade climate disasters is far more important than saving land, scenery, habitats, wildlife, and ways of life from the ravages of wind and solar installations.
In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with other federal agencies, is preparing to expedite wind and solar permit approvals, no matter the effects on Mother Earth. They’ve even decreed that bald and golden eagles killed by wind turbines are merely “incidental takings” — unintentional losses due to otherwise lawful activities — and thus irrelevant in permitting decisions. Nor do they consider the incomprehensible amounts of mining (in faraway lands with lax environmental standards) required to produce the metals, minerals, and concrete those installations will need.
Disregarding those realities, President Joe Biden wants 25 gigawatts of onshore wind electricity by 2025 and 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. (For comparison, one gigawatt is the same power as 1.3 million horses).
This notion of “25 by ’25” and “30 by ’30” is catchy. But it’s unlikely to be achieved. The electricity will be there only when the wind unpredictably blows — perhaps 40 hours a week, 2,200 hours a year, for a few hours or days at a stretch. Upwards of 5,000 windmills will be needed for that onshore nameplate capacity and 2,500 turbines more than 850 feet tall with 12 MW of power for the offshore scheme.
There will be opposition. Some 460 U.S. communities have “rejected or restricted” wind and solar projects since 2015, energy analyst Robert Bryce observes. However, it’s much harder to block projects like Lava Ridge because most of that land is federally owned and managed.
The locals are certainly not happy, as the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow’s Gabriella Hoffman and Fox News’ Jesse Watters learned. This huge Lava Ridge industrial wind facility would be barely two miles from Craters of the Moon National Monument. It would destroy majestic vistas, kill numerous raptors and bats, reduce surface water flow, and impair farming and ranching lifestyles.
Worst of all, the electricity generated at Lava Ridge won’t stay in Lava Ridge or even Idaho. It will be exported — primarily to power-hungry California. The home of Hollywood celebrities and Gavin Newsom already imports more than one-fourth of the electricity it consumes — because leftist elites don’t want coal or gas, or even nuclear or hydroelectric power.
Absent from this controversy, oddly, are those in the green movement. Typically, energy projects such as oil and gas drilling are routinely opposed by environmentalist groups that purport to be “deeply concerned” about sage grouse, fish, snails, and plants. However, in the case of massive, obtrusive, destructive wind-solar-battery-transmission projects like Lava Ridge, all you hear is crickets.
To be fair, wind energy projects aren’t always given a pass by environmentalists. Occasionally it’s a different story, especially if they’re slated to be built in places such as Martha’s Vineyard. This is because their not-in-my-backyard sentiments apply only to their backyards — San Francisco, Sacramento, Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C. — not to your backyard.
Climate-virtue-signaling, big-city politicians don’t have room for wind turbine and solar panel installations where they can junk up their neighborhoods. They have no desire to see them anywhere nearby. They certainly don’t want warehouses filled with backup battery modules that could burst into chemical-fueled infernos at any moment.
A better plan for them, it appears, is to let others pay the price of their energy fantasies. Urban elites know that those who live in what they derisively call “flyover country” don’t have the votes to stop them. But those who live in Midwestern states do possess the land needed to fulfill these “planet-saving” objectives. Environmental aristocrats view this as a plus and a sure way to earn themselves kudos at their next social gathering when the subject turns to climate change.
It’s a sad situation, but rural folks must prepare for battle. While the odds are high that such projects as Lava Ridge can be stopped, the reliability of the grid and the state of the environment are hanging in the balance. Despite the undeniable detriments, the “green revolution” is coming to your backyard soon.
Craig Rucker is president of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.
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