Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

February 3, 2013

Ill winds blowing on Tazewell

The windmill scare may have blown over for the short term. For some reason I expect the situation to return.

A recent bill introduced in the General Assembly by northern aggressor and State Senator Richard L. Saslaw is an example of legislation that gives power to the windmill boys and open Pandora’s box in other matters detrimental to the people.

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Dominion Power, whose officials claim to have had no hand or influence in Saslaw’s introduction of Senate Bill 1341, recently awarded the Appalachian School of Law a $95,000 grant to examine the barriers to the development of onshore wind energy in Virginia. These people have enlisted the help of the school, a state supported school, to do their bidding for them.

Virginia has had a renewable energy goal for several years, and some say there is sufficient wind capacity in several locations among the Appalachian highlands in Virginia. These advocates have no problem in making attempts to shove these projects down the throats of the local people. One of the principal sites mentioned is the location of the proposed wind project on East River Mountain in Tazewell County that has been thwarted largely by local opposition.

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The Dominion grant charges ASL’s Natural Resource Law Center with cataloging and analyzing the legal, regulatory, policy and public opinion opposition to onshore wind energy development in Virginia. The project will explore the bases for local opposition, the local and state incentives and disincentives for wind energy development, the barriers inherent in Virginia’s permitting and site selection process, and the differences between Virginia and similarly situated states where wind energy development is proceeding.

Beware. The northern winds are still blowing.

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Perhaps East River Mountain should be treated as a national treasure, afforded the status of a state or national park or forest and its beauty be preserved for generations to come.

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Many people in Tazewell County were upset about another attempt by the advocates of “Big Government” taking over the constitutional prerogatives of local communities. No legislature should enact laws that override or trump Tazewell County’s Ridgeline Protection Ordinance or any other counties’ ordinances regarding renewable energy.

The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, after due consideration of all issues brought forth, acted to protect the ridgelines of Tazewell County from excessively tall structures by enacting the Ridgeline Protection Ordinance. The rules and guidelines of the General Assembly were followed and a long process of debate, public hearings, consultant reports, economic impact studies, the rights of property owners, and all concerned citizens were all afforded due process. The members of the board voted to protect the ridgelines of Tazewell County.

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Judging from how busy U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller has been during the past two weeks, it sounds more like he is planning on running again for office rather than retiring. Rockefeller said, “Raising the debt ceiling is the responsible thing to do. It isn’t about spending; it’s about paying the bills we already have. Rather than holding our economy hostage and waiting until the last minute, we now have the assurance that we can honor our current obligations and avoid the risk of downgrading our nation’s credit rating again. The debt ceiling is not a bargaining chip.”

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There you have it, a few comments on items of interest to the area. What happened to the few days of warm weather some blamed on global warming? It has turned cold once again. I hope you are staying warm and that you have a blue sky day. Yes, we will have six more weeks of winter. I can look at the calendar and see that without the help of a groundhog.

Wilson Butt, a resident of Bluefield, is a retired Department of Highways official.

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