Komanoff: Don’t fear the future, embrace the wind farm

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Ninety years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt told a nation locked into the miseries of the Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

FDR’s reassuring words and resolute tone rallied Americans and set a pattern of optimism that helped carry the United States to economic recovery and, later, victory in a world war.

Today’s calamity, global climate change, should have special resonance for Long Island. Our trademark sea-splashed geography and low-lying beach topography place Nassau and Suffolk in the path of rising sea levels. Just as Americans rebuilt our economic system and prevailed in World War II, confronting the climate crisis means all hands on deck.

It also requires taking a page from FDR and conquering our fears. Unfounded, baseless fears. Unfortunately, a pair of local legislators are doing the opposite as they work to scuttle the proposed Equinor wind farm off my hometown of Long Beach on Nassau County’s south shore.

Delusional thinking reaches a whole new level when officials representing fossil fuel-dependent, storm-vulnerable and barely-above-sea-level communities seek to block Long Island’s and New York State’s first significant offshore wind power array.

Climate change is here and for some, literally at our doorsteps. Wind farms have been proven to be safe and an effective part of the solution.

So why are State Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick of Malverne and Assemblymember Ari Brown from the Five Towns mobilizing against the project? Why did they recently circulate tens of thousands of flyers telling voters that the 150 offshore wind turbines threaten their way of life, when in reality the power they will produce is key to preserving it?

Equinor’s wind turbines will reduce Long Island families’ carbon footprint, protect marine life and create enduring, high-paying jobs for their communities.

Denmark and northern Germany have been reaping those benefits for nearly two decades, followed by Scotland and soon, Ireland. Although the United States has been slow to develop offshore wind, our land-based wind turbines last year produced a stunning 435 billion kilowatt-hours — one-tenth of all electricity generated in the 50 states.

Every kilowatt-hour of that energy was spun from free air and didn’t have to be made by burning oil or coal or fracked methane gas. Commercial wind power is a huge U.S. climate success story, reducing our carbon emissions and helping ensure that our electric cars and electric heat are climate friendly.

What do Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick and Brown have to say to that? Nothing. Rather than deal in facts, their mailer trades in fear and misstatements.

The dangers it alleges are not based on facts, science or experience. “Electromagnetic cables … Harmful to marine life … Reduced property values … Potential high cost of environmental damage.” It would appear to be the work of a cynical, well-oiled propaganda campaign whose agenda has little to do with the protection of our environment or the ability to confront climate change. Rather, this campaign seems to bind itself to political rhetoric and the bottom-line concerns of special interests who hope to delay or deny the arrival of competitive renewable energy.

The climate crisis confronts our beautiful island with a circumscribed future. Solving the crisis requires that every country, state, city, and region play a part. Long Island biggest climate asset by far is our offshore wind resources. Turning our backs on Equinor’s wind turbines and, yes, other wind farms to follow, isn’t climate Russian roulette. It’s climate suicide.

 

Charles Komanoff, a native of Long Beach, is a consulting economist based in New York City.



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