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Market, not Legislature, should determine wind farm viability in Oklahoma

Oklahoman Published: March 18, 2014
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METAL highway warning signs in some parts of the country alert drivers to the potential for a big blow: “Severe Cross Winds Most Likely.” Perhaps we need a welcome sign in parts of eastern Oklahoma that says “Entering Low-wind Zone. Drivers, Breeze on By!”

This is the message being sent by Oklahoma Senate Bill 1440, which would place a moratorium on new wind farm developments east of Interstate 35, until 2017. The bill passed the Senate handily, despite its questionable origins in a property dispute between landowners in a single county in which a wind farm is planned.

Supposedly, the bill would apply only to areas deemed low-wind zones by scientists. We were blissfully unaware that any part of Oklahoma was a low-wind zone. Our travels haven’t encountered such Edenic places where gales have gone missing, replaced by breezes too meek to move the blades of those giant, expensive wind turbines.

The bill could foil plans for a wind farm in Craig County. An SB 1440 supporter, who owns property in the area, said he can’t understand why anyone would put a wind turbine where the winds don’t blow much. “You don’t mine where there’s no coal,” he said, “and you don’t drill where there’s no oil.”

Yes. And coal companies don’t invest millions of dollars where there’s no coal and oil companies don’t invest millions of dollars where there’s no oil. So why would a wind farm developer invest in Craig County? It must be based on a belief that the wind is there for the taking.

This is something the market should decide, without the Legislature’s involvement. But then few things sail easily into the category of being off limits to lawmakers. Someone wants to build a wind farm and someone else doesn’t want it to be built. So let’s pass a law to stop it!

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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