Albany County has an opportunity with wind energyTo the editor:

I sent the following note to our Albany County commissioners on June 14 :

Dear commissioners:

I write to you with the strongest possible support of private property rights and allowing wind energy development in rural Albany County. Our county has more land area than Delaware, Rhode Island, and D.C. combined. Those places have a total population of more than 2.7 million persons. Albany County has a population of less than 40,000 persons.

We have all driven through the rural areas and seen how relatively empty they are. We have all also driven by large clusters of large wind turbines, such as I-80 near the summit, and seen how benign they are. If there are no longer private property rights in the most rural parts of our country and state, then there are no longer private property rights anywhere.

Ranching is an up and down business. For our long established and hard working ranching families to have royalty income from wind generation may be crucial to their survival. Depending on tax structures, such income may also flow to our county and state.

We know that coal power is dirty and declining and that renewables are increasing. In the future if utility scale battery storage is added in Albany County, we could become self-sufficient in energy with this project.

Sincerely,

Martin L. Buchanan

Laramie

Cleanup effort shows city’s spiritThank you volunteers and city of Laramie for putting together a pickup of broken tree limbs and branches this past Friday. I had a huge pile of debris from my cottonwoods, aspens and lilac bushes and no way to transport to a drop off location.

Sent an email to the city asking if I could be put on the list, and that afternoon, two young ladies (Lasso volunteers) called and came over with their horse trailer. They got to work filling that trailer and did a wonderful job! And both were so nice doing this hard work. They are very much appreciated!

I also want to thank I-80 Towing who were also offering their services to clean up after the storm.

It is times like this that I truly appreciate living in a community where people help one another when needed. Makes Laramie special!

Rimvyda Valiukenas

Laramie

Wind energy project could harm what we value mostHouston firm ConnectGen’s proposed Rail Tie Wind Project (hereafter RTWP) would consume 26,000 acres of private and state land south of Laramie for 35 years. To my knowledge, the following points have yet to be raised:

1) Eagle habitat intrusion: RTWP interrupts golden and bald eagle summer and year-round distribution areas, BLM’s West-Wide Mapping Project indicates.

2) Tanking tourism: Suggesting RTWP won’t damage tourism, ConnectGen uses Ocean City, New Jersey, as evidence—apparently oblivious that no one visits Ocean City for expansive views of unspoiled nature. The comparison is absurd.

3) Landfill overflow: Turbine blades cannot be recycled and end up in landfills, a problem in Casper already. Assuming the minimum number of turbines and maximum blade life, RTWP will dump 200 127-foot-long fiberglass blades in Wyoming landfills.

4) Inefficiency: Turbines extract only 59% of the wind’s power. Worse, a 2019 Harvard study found a turbine’s actual energy production is up to 60% lower than its projected energy, and the larger the installation, the lower each turbine’s production.

5) Who pays? Is the incessantly touted potential tax revenue extracted from individuals through increased taxes, power bill fees, and taxpayer-funded government subsidies?

6) Landowner health: In March 2016, a Calhan, Colorado, landowner credited the local wind installation with saving his family farm. A year later, local news reported the side-effects of constant noise and shadow flicker from 100 turbines had driven 10 families away. The energy company insists it followed safety protocols.

7) Company (in)stability? Two-year-old Houston-based ConnectGen has three established projects, seven in development, and a 14.5-year loan from Norddeutsche Landesbank—which reported a quarterly net loss of $79 million on March 27. Even before COVID-19’s global economic impact, more than one wind project has collapsed and abandoned turbines.

Wyoming is unique. Living here every day, we sometimes take this for granted. When a Texas company appears with a pitch that dramatically impacts our ecosystem, we must remember that we have much to protect—and every gain comes with a sacrifice. Behind the debate surrounding the Rail Tie Wind Project is a simple question: What do we value most?

Emma Clute

Laramie

Upheaval hopefully will lead to equalityDear Editor,

On Sunday, June 14, Derek Mancinho wrote a letter to the editor decrying the violence and looting that have occurred in the wake of the murder by police of unarmed black men. I want to commend him for using the proper term for the killing of George Floyd.

However, I take issue with the overall thrust and tone of the rest of his letter.

Rather than argue with Mr. Mancinho, I would like to alert him to some other violent protests that occurred a while back. These resulted in the destruction of property and the physical abuse of government representatives. The miscreants in this case were all white and their biggest complaint was “taxation without representation.”

I won’t go so far as to upbraid those responsible, since their actions contributed to the founding of our country. Neither will I condemn recent protesters who have been driven by desperation to unlawful acts because systemic racism is ruining or stealing their lives. My hope is that the upheaval we are experiencing will lead to the fulfillment of our founders’ dream ... freedom and justice for all.

Mike Selmer

Laramie

Governor needs to act on locality fundingDear Gov. Gordon,

I am writing today asking that you share your plan with the public for the remaining $400 million in federal coronavirus funding that is still in your hands to help struggling Wyoming cities and towns. I understand that these funds can pay for actual expenses incurred during the pandemic – thinking broadly this could be anything from potholes to helping health care providers. Let’s get our cities and towns involved in the discussion and make sure communities such as Laramie can spend funds on their greatest needs.

The clock is ticking since the money must be spent by the end of the year. Let’s not leave these federal funds on the table. Let’s put them to work to directly help our local communities now.

Respectfully,

Jean Garrison

Laramie

Wind energy should go forward in Albany CountyTo the Editor,

Thanks to Travis Brown and George Jones for columns and LTEs supporting wind development in the area. As people share perspectives, I return always to the simple thought that we use energy, and because of that, we are obligated to find sustainable energy that is sourced responsibly, for economic and environmental reasons.

To those who fear losing their views to wind turbines, I am sympathetic. I wish I could gaze from my backyard into the Snowies, but the view is blocked by my neighbor’s house. As someone who has worked on coal mines and in oil and gas fields, I can report that not being able to see those sites does not make them beautiful — or economically or environmentally sound.

This state experiences boom and bust cycles tied to fossil fuel development. Responsible wind development can add to the diversification of our economy, bringing jobs, tax revenues and new opportunities.

Some us have outdated notions of wind energy. Technology has advanced so we can mitigate viewshed impacts; for example, Aircraft Detection Lighting System and similar technology, to mitigate nighttime light from turbines.

Baseline wildlife surveys, including avian use, raptor nests, and Wyoming Species of Greatest Conservation Need, will help the developers design project layout to minimize impact on sensitive areas. Continued monitoring, such as bat acoustics, eagle conversation practices, weed prevention and revegetation with native seed mixes, can help mitigate detrimental impacts to landscape, wildlife and its habitats throughout the project duration. Adaptive management will address issues as they arise.

Is responsible wind energy development a perfect scenario for those who don’t want to see turbines, or who worry about other impacts of development? Certainly not. But as Jones noted, we do not own our views. However, we do own responsibility for giving back to nature and our communities as we receive from them and for our own use of natural resources. As long as we use energy, we are obligated to find ways to do so responsibly, rather than expecting someone else to foot that ecological or economic bill.

Respectfully,

Lisa Cox

Laramie

Laramie should have increased police presenceDear Laramie City Council members:

Please hire more police officers to serve and protect our community. After reading the article in the Boomerang yesterday, I was disturbed to learn our town of 33,000 only has four officers working at a time. The chief of police said that is the same amount as when he started in 1980, and a study said that was not enough! How have the other departments in the city of Laramie grown since 1980?

We need more police officers to serve and protect our community. We owe our safety and security to our law enforcement men and women and we need to appreciate them for doing such a difficult job! Without them we are left to defend ourselves and neighbors. Please hire more police officers.

Lori Dalton

Laramie

(1) comment

TheReplacement

M. Buchanan, No your property rights do not trump those of your neighbors (i.e. zoning laws). Thankfully, that debate was settled long ago in favor of the community. Your next argument about Albany County having more land than the two smallest states and one city is patently absurd. Furthermore, every business is cyclical not just ranching. Also, you clearly don't understand what royalty income is. It is paid from the "income" of the windmill operators. If the windmill operators can not sell the power at a profit, there is no royalty income to be paid. Finally, you make the wild assumption (i.e. tax structures) that Albany County will seize a portion of that very uncertain royalty income through yet to be proposed new taxes. How is that proposition compatible with your individual property rights mantra?

Hopefully, common sense prevailed on the part of the county commissioners and your memo was round filed.

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