Steinburg wrong: Wind turbines harm property rights
Saturday, May 25, 2019
This letter is in reference to state Sen. Bob Steinburg’s column on wind energy in a recent edition. It appears that Steinburg is really not conversant with the U.S. Constitution, since he claims that Senate Bill 377’s restrictions on wind turbines over 500 feet tall would be in violation of personal property rights.
In fact, the constitution does not directly address property rights, but property rights are implicit in the opening statement of the Declaration of Independence, which states: “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Since all men are endowed with these rights, it is implicit that the pursuit of those rights cannot impede the same rights of other men.
Wind turbines do affect the rights of others. They do so by generating very low-frequency sound — infrasound — which has been well established to affect the health of people and animals up to several miles away; by destroying the bucolic nature of rural areas with flashing lights and swishing blades; and by their very presence, which degrades the value of adjacent properties.
Steinburg went on to misrepresent the applicability of the constitution’s Supremacy Clause — he was apparently referring to Article VI, paragraph 2 — which states that the constitution will be the supreme law of the land. He said that federal law both regulates airspace, through the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation, and supersedes state laws. But regulating the height of structures is not regulating airspace. Virtually every North Carolina county has ordinances regulating tall structures, and North Carolina has a “ridge” law, which prohibits tall structures along the ridge lines in the mountainous portions of the state.
As for the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse, it has proven to be totally ineffective. President Barack Obama declared that climate change was the greatest threat to our security so the Amazon Wind Farm US East facility was immediately authorized. We now know that that wind facility seriously degrades the capabilities of the relocatable-over -the-horizon radar in Chesapeake, Virginia, which in turn degrades our national security.
Maybe Sen. Steinburg should take his oath of office seriously enough to become educated on the realities of wind and solar energy facilities, rather than kowtowing to industry operatives, so that he can actually defend the constitutions of both the United States and North Carolina and the rights of his constituents.
Editor’s note: There is no evidence that the Amazon Wind Farm US East facility “seriously degrades” the radar capabilities of the Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads-Northwest Annex in Chesapeake, Virginia. A study completed last year by the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, and others found the wind farm’s interference levels were within the interference threshold allowed under a 2014 agreement between the facility’s owner, Avangrid, and the U.S. military.