Editor’s note: The debate over corporate wind farms in Palo Alto County and surrounding counties in northwest Iowa continues. It has given rise to strong opposition from a group of farmers, the Coalition for Rural Property Rights, who have organized themselves “to put forth the truth about wind turbine farms,” says Wayne Knutson, whose family owns a farm there. “These farmers are using mass mailings, signs, radio ads and social media to educate other farmers and landowners about the dark side of this debate. There are a number of disadvantages to wind farms and to the leases and easements the wind farm companies are offering for landowners to sign. Iowans are beginning to question the blind acceptance of wind energy as a solution to our energy needs.”
By Wayne Knutson Jr.
It’s no secret. Iowa farmers produce the best-tasting pork in the world. Pigs may not be the most beautiful animal in God’s creation, but we know there’s nothing like an Iowa chop fresh off the grill. We know pigs! We also know that “you can only put so much lipstick on that pig.” It’s still a pig.
It’s no secret that another animal has shown up in our county. It has come to take our wind, our land, our wildlife, our peaceful way of life, and most importantly, our friendships with neighbors. That animal has a name: corporate wind farm. Their owners are very clever. They know that across our nation, farmers, ranchers and landowners are demanding to know the truth about corporate wind farms. County supervisors are enforcing stringent setback covenants to protect farmers. Communities are rallying together to keep the wind farms out.
So, these corporations have brought their own lipstick — a lease payment. And they are working overtime to convince us that if we use their lipstick, we won’t notice the destruction they bring. Worried about losing your dirt? Wildlife? Peace and quiet? Night sky? Control over your farm? Good relations with neighbors? No problem. Just smear on some more lipstick. This lipstick is pretty tempting and a beautiful color of “green.” Comes with a promise that we can always get more, until the wind stops blowing. Until the wind subsidy ends.
Pulling back the curtain
Some farmers can’t wait. They’ve taken the bait. They’ve decided this green lipstick will cover all the problems and broken promises of wind power. But their neighbors see through the ruse, see through the “cover-up.” They know “you can only put so much lipstick on that pig.” It’s still a pig — especially this pig that’s over 500 feet tall, with noisy with spinning blades spanning 300 feet, that kill Iowa’s bald eagles, destroy our world-class pheasant hunting and greatly complicate farming operations.
These neighbors have pulled back the curtain of corporate wind farm propaganda. They’ve learned the “lipstick of a lease payment” can never adequately compensate for destroying our rich Iowa dirt, our pristine landscape, our hunter’s paradise, our spectacular night skies and sunsets.
They know that electricity produced by turbines is unreliable, too expensive and cannot be generated without massive government subsidies. They know lipstick can’t compensate farmers for migrating songbirds slaughtered by turbine blades spinning at over 175 mph. They know turbines would forever change our landscape from rolling fields of cropland into an industrial sprawl filled with hundreds of red-blinking towers that look like a Texas oil refinery by day or Chicago Midway Airport at night.
Wind leases come up short
In the end, that “promise” piece of lipstick paper called a lease, is unenforceable. Trying to collect lease payments from a bankrupt wind corporation is just putting more lipstick on the pig. What farmer can afford a legal case against a defunct wind farm company that has stopped lease payments or refuses to repair failed turbines? What farmer wants to go to court to defend themselves against a neighbor who is taking legal action because a noisy, spinning turbine has disrupted their peace and quiet, or caused wind turbine syndrome? What farmer can afford to tear down obsolete turbines when the company goes broke or government takes away the wind subsidy “punchbowl.”
No amount of lipstick will ever take us back to our rural way of life before wind turbines. No amount of lipstick can cover up damaged tile lines or the permanent ugliness wind farms create. No amount of lipstick can cover up the uncomfortable truth that corporate wind farms could not exist without massive taxpayer subsidies.
Signing the lease is like putting lipstick on a pig. Let’s stick with what we know: producing pork. Growing corn and soybeans. We don’t need a “foreign” animal disrupting our way of life, killing our wildlife and upsetting friendships among neighbors. Don’t give in to government-subsidized wind corporation propaganda. Don’t take the lipstick!
Knutson, raised on a family farm in northwest Iowa, is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. His mother lives on the farm and is involved in managing the operation.