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Divisive rhetoric

We need to transition away from fossil fuels, and wind is part of the solution

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Regarding "Semantics and spin" in the May 23 New Times, it really saddens me to see a group like REACT and their spokesperson, Mandy Davis, continue to use divisive rhetoric to oppose offshore wind energy. A few examples of their misinformation:

• The article claims that the fossil fuel industry "almost never" funds campaigns against wind energy. The fossil fuel industry's extensive campaign against offshore wind and renewables in general has been going on for years and is well documented in articles such "The oil and gas industry is behind offshore wind misinformation" published just last year by the Center for American Progress.

• Ms. Davis does not appear to know the definition of renewable energy, claiming that "there is not a single aspect of the offshore wind industry that is renewable, end of story." "Renewable" refers to the source of energy, not the means to capture it. A simple Google search for the definition confirms this: "energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power."

• A third example is her claim that scientific monitoring of the environmental impacts of offshore wind does not exist. The Pacific Coast Offshore Wind Environmental Research Project Finder lists 120 scientific research projects relevant to the future of offshore wind on the Pacific Coast. On the East Coast, where offshore wind is operational, active monitoring is currently in progress.

• And lastly (though I could easily expand this list), the one that saddens me most is the characterization of environmental NGOs as illogical and greedy for supporting offshore wind for "reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with rectifying global warming or dealing with climate change." This point is regrettable for two reasons: Firstly, it is precisely because of global warming and climate change that NGOs such as the local chapters of SLO Climate Coalition, SLO County Citizens' Climate Education, Sierra Club, Morro Coast Audubon Society, and Surfrider support offshore wind development. Offshore wind, when combined with energy storage systems, has the potential to replace dozens of fossil fuel power plants, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the production of electricity. Secondly, by its misinformed and divisive rhetoric, REACT destroys its credibility and alienates itself from environmental organizations that could be potential allies in their cause to protect ocean and coastal resources from unmitigated environmental impacts.

The environmental NGOs that I am a part of all recognize the potential for negative environmental impacts during the planning, construction, and operation of offshore wind. And we want the operators to do all they can to reduce or mitigate those impacts. But we also understand that the negative environmental impact of continued combustion of fossil fuels to generate electricity is not just a potential problem. It is current one, and it is causing extensive and ongoing damage to not only the marine environment but to the entire planet. We need to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources and offshore wind can and should be part of that transition. Δ

Barry Rands retired from the Morro Bay Department of Public Services in 2015 and is currently a member of the SLO Climate Coalition, the SLO County Citizens' Climate Education, and the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club. Respond with a letter for publication by emailing it to [email protected].

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