Views from Kansas: Trump’s attacks are just hot air

Editor’s Note: Views from Kansas is a regular feature that highlights editorials and other viewpoints from across the state.

President Donald Trump continued his tiresome and inaccurate attack on wind power during a recent speech to fellow Republicans.

“If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value,” he said. “And they say the noise causes cancer.”

As usual, it isn’t clear where the president got his information. Windmill noise doesn’t cause cancer, and a 2013 review of the evidence showed wind turbines cause only minor ripples in home values.

But the president’s views will come as a surprise — and a severe disappointment — in Kansas, where wind is an essential component of the state’s energy system.

In 2018, Kansas ranked among the top five states in energy produced by wind. Kansas gets 36 percent of its electric energy from wind, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest share in the nation.

In 2017, wind energy powered the equivalent of 1,719,000 homes in Kansas. The industry provided more than 4,000 jobs. Lease payments to Kansas farmers, according to one estimate, may reach $20 million a year — a real benefit for farmers struggling when the economy is down.

Then there are the advantages for the rest of us. In 2017, according to the American Wind Energy Association, almost 8 million metric tons of carbon monoxide were not ejected into the sky because of all the wind energy produced in the state. Kansas saved more than 4 billion gallons of water, too.

Wind energy in Kansas is safer, and an important economic development tool. To be fair, wind-generated energy is slightly more expensive to consumers, for now, because of additional construction costs. Eventually, though, that expense should drop.

Trump’s attack on renewable wind energy makes no sense. His reliance on unsubstantiated facts could damage an important industry in the state, while making the skies more polluted and water less available.

Come to Kansas, Mr. President. The Flint Hills are pretty in the spring, and nearby farms are dotted with wind turbines efficiently powering homes and businesses. The windmills won’t give you cancer, either.

— Originally published in The Kansas City Star.


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