Commentary: Debate on wind farms a flashback to argument on hydroelectric plants

Wind turbines produce energy.
Wind turbines produce energy. Jill Johnson/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

RALEIGH — When Martin Nesbitt got up in the Senate the other day to argue against allowing industrial wind farms atop mountain ridges, I flashed back to a day in Congress in the 1970s when other North Carolinians were arguing for preserving the beauty of the mountains.

I think it was then-Rep. Jim Martin, R-N.C. who got to the crux of the matter. He argued that the House should allow debate on a bill to stop a hydroelectric project on the New River in Western N.C. and Southwestern Virginia by putting the river in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system. Don't flood one of the oldest rivers in the world and ruin its dramatic run through Ashe and Alleghany counties. Don't, he warned, make the mistake of trading our birthright for “a mess of wattage.”

Those attuned to Bible stories got the allusion to Esau's hasty trade for a bowl of pottage. In time the state saved the New River from a hydro plant that would have produced a mess of wattage but destroyed one of Eastern America's most gorgeous rivers.

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