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Harvesting The Wind

Editorial for June 18, 2009

There is no perfect energy source -- but some options are much better than others. That, essentially, is the way we see the proposed Whistling Ridge Wind Energy Project in eastern Skamania County.

If it's a given that energy is necessary for our society (and we certainly believe that is the case), then tapping the wind to supply our national and regional energy needs is one of the best ways to go.

The reasons for this are many: The wind truly is a "green" source of power. Nothing is being burned, no carbon fuels are released to provide energy from this source.

Along with solar power, wind energy is an innovative source that we as a nation should embrace rather than fear.

Looking at the various options, many of them are not acceptable: We don't believe nuclear power is a wise or safe approach to energy production. We don't want to see more coal-fired plants built in the region. We have serious reservations about gas-fired plants. Dams take a terrible toll on salmon and steelhead (this reality is one of the reasons tribal leaders are strongly supporting the move to wind energy).

And we don't believe "drill baby drill" is a realistic or rational approach, because it has three strikes against it already: No matter how much oil drilling is done, that source is going to run out sooner rather than later; drilling is not an environmentally-friendly way to obtain fuel; and reliance on oil keeps our nation dependent upon foreign sources of energy.

When looking at the big picture, wind energy is by far one of the best alternatives.

All the wind turbines cannot go to eastern Washington. It's not intellectually honest to say, "sure we support wind power, but put the turbines somewhere else." And proponents of the Whistling Ridge Project are correct in pointing out that there are no "buffer zones" around the National Scenic Area boundaries that should halt developments that otherwise meet the state's permitting criteria.

If, as a nation, we are serious about "green energy" and "energy independence," choices have to be made. If we are sincere about the need to combat global warming, wind power is one excellent way to do so.

As we said, there is no perfect solution. But in our view, SDS Lumber Co.'s proposed Whistling Ridge Wind Energy Project deserves support.

JB

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