March 11, 2023
Tilting at Windmills:
Is Idaho just raw material for California?
By: Brian Almon
The proposed Lava Ridge and Salmon Falls wind projects would upend Idaho’s economy, wreck a culturally significant historic monument, and harm the interests of hardworking men and women across several industries — all in the name of generating power for liberal environmentalists in Malibu and San Francisco.
State Senator Glenneda Zuiderveld, Magic Valley Times-News, February 12, 2023
When I read that editorial from Senator Zuiderveld last month I was intrigued, and somewhat troubled. Why was Idaho planning to build a massive wind turbine farm to satisfy California’s need for so-called green energy? So I invited the senator to speak at Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Capitol Clarity event this week to discuss the issue further.
Zuiderveld brought two constituents, Lyle Johnstone of the Magic Valley Liberty Alliance and Joan Hurlock of the Stop Lava Ridge organization, both of whom shared in great detail what the proposal would mean for the Magic Valley and for all Idaho. As I listened, I began to realize that this issue crossed all sorts of party and ideological lines. Both Democratic and Republican legislators were in attendance, listening with rapt attention. The presenters explained that a resolution urging the federal government to not go ahead with this project was passed with unanimous support.
Did I say federal government? Yes. The ultimate decision about whether or not to cover the Magic Valley with 800-foot tall alien monstrosities will not be made in Idaho, but in the bowels of the Bureau of Land Management.
I see two issues here. One is the utility of wind turbines. There has been a lot of debate over the efficiency of wind power relative to other forms, and not being an engineer I don’t want to go to deeply into those details. There are some undeniable facts: that wind power is unreliable, that manufacturing and disposing of turbine equipment is definitely not “green”, and that wind farms do tremendous damage to the ecosystem. My personal heuristic when engaging with others on the issue of environmental conservation is to see if they support nuclear power. If they don’t, then they’re clearly not operating in good faith. After all, what is more important, reliable energy or destroying the carbon based industry that created the modern world?
The second issue is that of state sovereignty. According to the 10th Amendment and the principles of federalism, states are sovereign over their own lands. However, over the course of admitting western states to the union, the federal government simply laid claim to millions of acres of land. Slightly more than 50% of Idaho is owned by the federal bureaucracy, managed by agencies like BLM, the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and more.
Idaho Republican Party Chairman Dorothy Moon summed the situation up in an editorial this week:
The project is being pushed by a New York-based company. Their view is to use Idaho’s lands and natural resources for the benefit of consumers in far-off Malibu or San Francisco, California. That’s right: current Idaho industries that use these public lands — including dairymen, ranchers, farmers, and sportsmen — will have their productive economic activities pushed aside so the 1% can continue living the California life-style, while claiming to be climate change “neutral.”
The only constitutional role for the federal government to play in overseeing the states is essentially to handle commerce and disputes between them. State legislatures are meant to have sovereign authority within their own borders. But the modern world has grown strange. The Founding Fathers could not imagine that someday a company based in New York would propose building wind turbines in Idaho for the benefit of California. But isn’t that the inevitable result of chucking the 10th Amendment out the window so long ago? In a world where only GDP matters, why shouldn’t Idaho be exploited for the benefit of wealthier regions?
Lyle Johnstone began his presentation at Capitol Clarity by pointing to the World Economic Forum, the United Nations’ Agenda 2030, and executive orders signed by Barack Obama as the high-level causes for green energy projects such as Lava Ridge. While it’s easy to dismiss these statements as Alex Jones-style conspiracy theories, it’s clear that this is the direction the western world is heading. There really does seem to be a push to encourage us all to live in cities and subsist on rationed electricity all in the name of saving the planet. The rural areas of Idaho are simply raw materials in the service of that goal.
Why do we have sovereign state legislatures if not to protect our people and our environment from this kind of exploitation?
Magic Valley Representatives Lance Clow and Jack Nelson presented a resolution in the House urging the federal government to forego building the proposed wind farm. While this is laudable, and I urge the legislature to pass it, isn’t it messed up that we are resorted to begging the federal government and big corporations not to plunder our state? The upcoming decades are going to require tremendous boldness on the part of legislatures and governors to save our states before it’s too late.
Note: A descendant of American pioneers, Brian writes about the importance of culture and about current events in the context of history. His work can be found on Substack, here.