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Apr. 19 2010 - 11:37 am | 106 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Priority Smackdown: Alternative Energy Vs. The Pentagon

The {{w|Brazos Wind Farm}}, also known as the ...

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Here’s a perfect test of whether the United States can move into the 21st century: do we care more about developing wind energy or the possibility that continental Air Force radars might experience some interference?  The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin explains:

One of the Obama administration’s prime initiatives — the development of sources of alternative energy to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, create American jobs and combat climate change — is being jeopardized by competing concerns of the Defense Department.

The Pentagon is threatening to scuttle what promises to be the world’s largest wind farm, in eastern Oregon, arguing that the giant turbines could interfere with an Air Force radar system.

Caithness Energy had planned to break ground two weeks from now on the 845-megawatt, $2 billion Shepherds Flat wind farm near Arlington, Ore., an economically depressed rural community. But last month, Pentagon officials moved to deny the developer its final Federal Aviation Administration permit.

The move has sparked an intense lobbying battle and White House-led negotiations as senior Obama administration officials hope to avert a showdown that could cost 16,000 American jobs. The Pentagon’s objections could put at risk three other major wind projects in the same region, along with proposed farms in states from Illinois to Texas. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the dispute “is not about one project. It’s about the future of renewable, domestic, clean power.”

Hey, you never know when some Russian Bear bombers might make a run.

The fact that the company supplying the turbines is Spanish already tells you how far behind the United States is when it comes to developing and manufacturing alternative energy. How this turns out will say a lot about what our future will look like.


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    I'm a Washington, DC-based writer, interested in politics, history, and outdoor adventure. I'm a Correspondent at Outside magazine, a former Senior Editor and Diplomatic Correspondent for US News & World Report, and author of "The Race" (Houghton Mifflin, 2002).

    "Parallel Universe" will explore the people and ideas that could change everything--if only our failing politics, consumerist culture, and love of unfettered capitalism will allow it. Which they probably won't. Still, it's fun to pretend it will all be okay.

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