By Sarah Taylor
Editor’s note: The Icebreaker Project is working to place six wind turbines a few miles offshore of Cleveland Ohio.
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority says it has identified the likely staging area to handle the massive foundation structures for the wind turbines in the Icebreaker Project. In Europe, ports with heavy-capacity dock structures have been key elements in their offshore wind industry.
But like any worthy project, Icebreaker has opponents. Here, the vast majority are associated with the production of electrical energy that uses older technologies. In Ohio, it is the fossil-fuel industry, which currently supplies about 85% percent of the state’s electrical power. Across Lake Erie, in Ontario, the opposition to Icebreaker mostly comes from the nuclear-energy industry, which dominates the province’s electrical supply.
The commercial motivation for this opposition is concealed behind expressions of “environmental concerns”. These contrived worries are disguised so they appear to originate from genuine organizations. However, what is happening here is a prime example of what is known as “Astroturfing”. This is the practice of hiding the sponsors of messages, by making it appear as though they come from real grassroots participants.
It is an extremely effective way of arousing fear of wind power among the public. The websites of the phony organizations often list no staff and no board members. They just display the usual fabrications about hazards to birds and bats and fishes. These falsehoods are endlessly repeated, despite decades of evidence showing these accusations to be completely baseless. Worse than that, these newly formed “environmental” groups, such as the North American Platform Against Windpower, National Wind Watch, Great Lakes Wind Truth, (mostly based in Canada) attack long-established environmental groups.
They accuse the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and the Audubon Society of endorsing wind power projects, only if they are paid large sums for performing further environmental studies. Another accusation is that green-energy financiers have bribed respected environmental organizations for enthusiastic publicity of their companies’ efforts.
Another false accusation concerns the effects of turbine structures on fish populations. It has been shown that fish are actually attracted to submerged wind-tower bases, and fish populations increase. Despite this evidence, the Astroturfers encourage fishermen to believe that fish are scared away from wind turbines.
Windustrious Cleveland has been working for the past twelve years to gather national as well as local support for this offshore wind power project. It is thrilling to see the great progress that Icebreaker has made so far.
It is also wonderful that a growing number of national figures are providing strong endorsements for offshore wind on Lake Erie. Climate scientist Michael Mann says the Icebreaker Project has an excellent chance of being the first of many offshore wind power installations on the Great Lakes. These will result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and a big increase in job-creating manufacturing centers throughout the region.
Cleveland has a proud history of industrial pioneers who turned our city into a center of manufacturing innovation. Icebreaker continues that tradition. We will be doing the world, and ourselves, a great service when we make use of the bounteous supply of wind energy all across our Great Lakes. The sooner that Icebreaker can begin that process, with the insertion of those initial six graceful, silent, beautiful turbines, the better we all will be.
— Sarah Taylor, Windustrious Cleveland; Similar comments were made to the Ohio Power Siting Board 7/19/18 public hearing on the Icebreaker Project
Filed Under: News, Offshore wind, Policy, Projects