by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel

Apparently, people in rural Ohio are not overly fond of renewable energy. In fact, various county commissioners there voted down 42 wind energy and 43 solar energy projects in 2022. Sixteen of the proposed wind farms were in Logan County. Interestingly, Logan County, Colorado, also said no to a proposed wind farm. The two counties are named for different Logans, so we can assume their opposition to wind farms is coincidental, not hereditary.

The opposition in rural Ohio is not a rare phenomenon, though. It is a national trend, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. For years I have maintained that as soon as the entire country switches to alternative forms of energy, the same activists will fight that, too, such is their opposition to all uses of energy. The argument is not about fossil fuels or carbon emissions or climate change, not really. It is a larger and deeper argument about standard of living and quality of life. Some activists simply believe there are too many people in the world, and that mankind’s impact on the world is always negative. They will always rally against any increase in manufacturing, production, and especially consumption, because those things enable growth.

In recent years, the campaign against fossil fuels led to massive switching from coal-fired power plants to natural gas, and then to the campaign against fracking, liquid natural gas export terminals, and other technologies to produce more natural gas. It also led to the currently popular call for Americans to trade in their gas-powered cars for electric vehicles. All these campaigns have included both regulatory and incentive tactics — both carrots and sticks.

Environmental groups, academics and renewable energy corporations are all hoping the $127 billion appropriated for renewable energy projects by the recent Biden “Inflation Reduction Act” would jump-start a massive new build-out of commercial-scale solar and wind projects. But as Robert Bryce, the most noted authority on local opposition to renewable projects, points out, “The reality is that land-use conflicts have been hindering the growth of those projects… for years. And as more projects get proposed, more rural communities are objecting.”