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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Environmental, scientific, and labor leaders ask for lawsuit to be withdrawn against wind project

Sabotaging the Future: 


Newport Preservation Society sues to block off-shore wind
turbines that might disturb their view
In a letter that alleges racism and classism, what the writers call “energy privilege,” a group of environmental, scientific, and labor leaders are asking the Preservation Society of Newport County to withdraw its lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval of the Revolution Wind project.

The letter, printed in full below, challenges Preservation Society CEO Trudy Cox’s assertion that the “Proposed projects will inflict severe and long-lasting effects on the character, community, and heritage-tourism- driven economy of Newport, including historic properties that depend on this economy for their preservation activities.”

The signers of the letter write:

“[W]e do not consider the sight of wind turbines damaging the aesthetic or cultural value of Rhode Island or its tourism industry. These will appear as mere toothpicks on the horizon, often not visible, and many tourists and residents will find them interesting, inspiring, and beautiful. But that is largely irrelevant, as any negative effects that you claim will be caused by the view of wind turbines from Aquidneck Island are exceedingly trivial compared to the economic benefits and urgent environmental need for this project. To value the alleged impacts to ‘viewsheds’ of mansions over the civilization-level threat faced by our region and the world from the climate crisis shows an extreme level of what has been described as ‘energy privilege.’”

The signers go on to quote an article by Leah C. StokesEmma FranzblauJessica R. Lovering, and Chris Miljanich in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that describes “how anti-wind opposition is disproportionately found in wealthier, whiter areas of the United States and Canada.”

Opposition to clean energy is a privilege,” wrote the authors of that article. “It imposes pollution burdens on poorer communities and communities of color, as it slows down the transition away from fossil fuel electricity sources overwhelmingly placed in their backyards. The impacts of this delay can be felt for generations.

“Studies have shown that children exposed to higher levels of air pollution experienced major health impacts and potentially devastating socio-economic ramifications,” noted the letter to Trudy Cox.

“This justice issue is worsened by the fact that the richest 1% emit as much greenhouse gasses as 66% of the rest of humanity. We ask you to consider what you’re asking other communities to bear in order to maintain your privileged aesthetic view.”