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Union Members Are Devoted to Ohio’s First Offshore Wind Project

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The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) has been reviewing the application by Icebreaker Windpower Inc., regarding its proposal to install six turbines on Lake Erie, a few miles offshore from Cleveland. As part of the OPSB process, the public was invited to submit opinions in writing, about the proposal. Around nine hundred comments have been submitted so far. They have been eight to one in favor of the project.

It is interesting to note that over half of the supportive statements come from individual union members. These include many from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, as well as from the Union of Carpenters and the Ironworkers Union. Their endorsements naturally emphasize the spurring of economic development, with accompanying job growth, that would take place. However, many also strongly point out that the Northern Ohio region could lead the way in the essential move to making use of the very large untapped source of clean energy, available from the Great Lakes.

Environmental leadership is also a top priority for the many other signers of positive comments for the Icebreaker project. Those statements come from individual citizens, as well as from organizations, companies, and legislative representatives who have expressed strong feelings for the need to build a cleaner future for our planet, and for the life that it currently supports. They urge that the project move forward as rapidly as possible.

What is surprisingly ironic, when one examines the list of comments, is the absence of letters of support from some of the most well-known environmental groups. Where are positive statements from the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and so on? Aren’t they in favor of the project? In fact, some organizations have actually spoken out against it. There are negative comments from the American Bird Conservancy, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Save the Eagles International, the World Council for Nature, and others. The Audubon Society has provided some words of support, but only conditionally — i.e., provided some additional studies of potential bird and bat impact are performed. And the Sierra Club has requested intervention. Their requirements should be met, they say, before they would be in favor of the project going ahead.

What could be the reason for this failure to provide unambiguous support for a vital effort to reduce fossil-fuel emissions? Does the need to be seen as a full participant in the decision-making process override concern for the environment? The Audubon Society and the Sierra Club are very large and respected organizations. Together they have over three and a half million members, of whom the great majority are surely in favor of wind power being developed as rapidly as possible. Maybe those members can communicate with their head offices, and persuade them to recognize the growing urgency of climate change, and the need to endorse this invaluable source of clean power, unequivocally and immediately.

In the meantime, Environment America is one of the environmental organizations that is speaking up for wind power, without caveats. They say: "We look forward to making offshore wind a key element of America’s plan to tackle climate-altering carbon pollution and, ultimately, to meet all of our energy needs with clean, renewable energy."

In conclusion, let us thank the Union workers who, like Environment America and other endorsers, have provided a thumbs-up for this project, without demanding limitations and delays. They are the true environmentalists. They are speaking out in an attempt to propel us into a more sustainable future.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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