Evolve – Don’t Stagnate: Moving Cleveland’s Icebreaker Project Forward

By Sarah Taylor

Those trying to prevent the Icebreaker Project from going ahead are not put off by the facts. They continue to add to the Ohio Power Siting Board’s Comments Page their dishonest arguments, claiming that wind turbines are responsible for large numbers of bird and bat deaths. This is despite the Final Environmental Assessment, announced by the U.S. Department of Energy on September 10th, which showed that the Icebreaker Project has very little environmental impact, and should be free to move ahead.

Regardless, the Lake Erie wind power opposition forces just persist in their attacks. On October 10th they submitted to the OPSB references to statements expressed by those who claim that wind turbines emit sub-auditory sounds that are capable of damaging the brain. However, these fears are clarified as baseless, in an article in The Atlantic, on June 19th, 2017.
These phony fears have been vigorously propagated by the Australian coal mining industry, in various parts of their Continent. The effort began at least a decade ago, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2013/jun/02/wind-turbine-power-health-australia , when these wind power opponents judged that Australians would have greater interest in the health of their eardrums and brains than in any potential danger to wildlife. Their fabrications certainly caused many citizens around that country to become wind opponents.
Fossil fuel providers, instead of continuing to battle against the essential need of countries to move away from outdated energy sources, should find a way of getting on board the exciting opportunity of moving to new, non-polluting versions.
There are countless examples, throughout history, of far-sighted innovators who could see that the way that objects were being made could be improved. In some cases these innovators had no previous experience in influencing how the necessary materials or equipment could be manufactured, in order to make the desired updates.
However, other innovators have actually been the makers of the forms of equipment that were increasingly becoming outdated. They saw how some of that equipment they were producing could be modified, in order to move us into the new era. Studebaker was a classic example of such a company. It was founded in 1852 and was originally a manufacturer of farm wagons. Studebaker then formed the “Studebaker Automobile Company”, and in 1902 began the production of electric vehicles. After two years it moved to building gasoline vehicles. Although the company did not have a very long lifespan, it developed a reputation, over the next 50 years, for very high quality and reliability.
A current example of corporate far-sightedness is illustrated by Statoil. It recently adapted its offshore oil drilling business to include manufacturing floating platforms for offshore wind turbines. It partnered with Masdar, and on October 18th 2017, Statoil’s Hywind, the world’s first floating wind farm started production, offshore from Peterhead in Scotland.
But it is not only industry leaders who can benefit from making smart transitioning choices. Some of those who have actually been employed as coal miners in the past are moving to newer, and very different forms of employment. An example of such a transition was the subject of an NPR interview on October 19th 2018, in which Colorado coal miners told how they had enthusiastically taken up jobs in their state’s new fiber-optic cabling enterprises.
So the message for us all, and now particularly for the fossil fuel industry, is, as it has always been,
“Evolve – Don’t Stagnate”.