Home Energy and Environment Bad Wind Bill Blocked With Big Assist From Virginia Beach Republicans

Bad Wind Bill Blocked With Big Assist From Virginia Beach Republicans


DSC_8731.jpgVirginia’s insane General Assembly schedule just produced an absurdly heart-warming outcome: Two smart Republicans helped block a bill that would’ve put up an unnecessary new hurdle for wind energy.

When it comes to clean wind power, Virginia remains a black hole. Republican State Sen. Tom Garrett thinks the problem is that it’s not being regulated heavily enough:

A proposal by Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, to protect birds and bats from wind turbines passed a committee vote Thursday and was referred to the full Senate.

Garrett said some advocates for wind-generated electricity had criticized the bill.

“I want to make this abundantly clear – and I’ll speak really slowly – this bill is in no way, shape or form designed to be an anti-wind bill,” he said. “We will, I hope, generate a greater and greater percentage of our power in the coming years via renewable energy resources whether it be solar, etc. That doesn’t mean we should do so irresponsibly.”

Wind energy is already heavily regulated by a range of officials and agencies charged with making sure its siting is as friendly to communities and wildlife as possible. Is it more likely Sen. Garrett was standing up for wildlife, or using anti-wind talking points pushed by polluter front groups to try to kill wind before it even gets off the ground?

Also, I have three reallys:

  • Really, Virginia is now solely concerned with how energy impacts wildlife? Virginia has already lost 156,000 acres on 67 mountains to mountaintop removal coal mining, but now that people want to build wind turbines to compete with coal energy, suddenly protecting birds and bats is the top priority? Really?
  • Really, Sen. Garrett’s commitment to advancing our energy future? Really? The same Sen. Garrett who last year sponsored a bill to put onerous new regulations on energy-saving smart meters? Really?
  • Really, Sen. Garrett is completely dedicated to the health & well being of Virginia’s wildlife? Really? His only other wildlife-related bill is to allow the hunting of coyotes on Sunday.

And last year the General Assembly passed and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Federal Court) signed a bill that Sen. Garrett introduced to spend taxpayer dollars promoting nuclear power. Remember this when Republicans try to tell you they’re pro-business or anti-regulation. In reality, Republicans are pro-their preferred industries.

The bill actually passed out of committee with the support of some of the most progressive Democrats in the Virginia Senate. I’m hoping they didn’t fully understand it – that they just saw a bill that claimed to be good for wildlife and voted yes. Virginia’s horribly dysfunctional General Assembly session is just 6 weeks long, requiring legislators to file, consider and vote on bills in less than a month. Again: Insane.

But fortunately it was saved on the Senate floor by two Republicans who know wind power means jobs in their district:

Sens. Frank Wagner and Tom Cosgrove, both Republicans from Virginia Beach, opposed the bill on the Senate floor.

Wagner said a wind-turbine park off the Virginia coast is awaiting a decision by federal agencies, bird-flight patterns already were considered, and adding new regulations would harm the project.

Here’s hoping yesterday’s vote is one of many that bring together clean energy jobs-loving Republicans with climate change-fighting Democrats.

Cross-posted from The Green Miles

  • The number of birds killed by cars, power lines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, not to mention fossil fuel pollution, is also huge. Yet we need to tighten up on wind power, which is clean energy that kills a miniscule number of birds compared to all these other causes? Alrighty then…

  • Dan Sullivan

    Either you don’t know how to write, you can’t interpret the language, or you don’t understand your subject. Maybe you are a budding petit bureaucrat without the ability to recognize unintended consequences or you are the easily beholding blunt tool of the last favored person in your office. Possibly you really don’t have much to contribute and you are desperate to look productive.

    It isn’t only your bird and bat bill.

    Look at what you’ve done in SB 13. You’ve made hunting appear much more genteel than it is. Anyone who has hunted with hounds knows that it is not restricted to the hours of daylight, particularly in the pursuit of raccoons; note the Sunday extension for raccoon hunting in SB 9, another bill where you tamper. On the one hand you’ve required the hunter to gain permission of the landowner or the occupant of a residence on a property before entering the property afoot. On the other you’ve required the hunter to gain permission the landowner or his agent before entering the property using a vehicle.

    So, to go on foot in pursuit of a hound on unoccupied land, you would have one locate the landowner and gain permission; by your language, the agent will not do. Or, if the land is occupied, even if the occupant of the residence is not the landowner’s agent, one may wake that occupant up at, say, 3 AM. Who is to say what authority a landowner has given a renter? Frankly, I prefer not to approach an occupied residence on any property in the middle of the night.

    There is no simple method for determining if a residence is on a property or just adjacent to a property where your hound has wandered, not to mention determining ownership of the property. Here’s a suggestion to help solve the problem you’ve created while solving a problem that does not exist. Mandate all landowners post phone numbers for themselves or their agents every 100 meters along the boundary of any property. Make sure you specify the size of the sign, the required colors and font of the print and background.  

    Or, don’t meddle in law with which you are apparently unfamiliar and that has evolved from common and accepted practice.