Bills Legislature

Brewer’s Latest Bill to Kill Clean Wind Energy

Brewer’s Latest Bill to Kill Clean Wind Energy

This Thursday, January 31, the Committee on Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs will hear testimony on LB 373, Senator Tom Brewer’s latest effort to kill the development of clean wind energy in Nebraska.  Why is Brewer so hostile to wind energy?  We refer you back to our earlier post on Brewer’s major campaign donations from Texas fracking company owner Audie Musgrave.  This is in line with the years-long campaign by the fossil fuel industry to kill all clean energy initiatives across the US.

Brewer himself is more likely to cite the concerns of his Sandhill constituents, who do not want the views from their living room windows spoiled by the sight of wind turbines, and would thus clearly prefer to continue to heat those living rooms with fossil fuels, which pose much less of a risk to the Sandhills ecological beauty (see for example, KXL Pipeline, ultimate destruction of entire Sandhills ecosystem due to climate change).  79% of Nebraskans support the development of wind energy, and remain generally unconcerned that their aesthetic experience will be ruined by the sight of windmills while fishing, hiking, hunting, bird watching, or other recreational activities. 

View from Tom Brewer’s house

Brewer’s bill would impose the minority view that wind energy is evil on all Nebraskans by eliminating the ability of local counties or municipalities to grant wind developers exceptions to overly restrictive zoning laws, if they wish.  So right now if your community wants wind energy and is willing to grant it some leeway on zoning, it can do so.  If Brewer’s bill passes, all new development will have to meet the draconian new regulations imposed by LB373, and your local municipality can’t grant any exceptions.  To give you one example of these new regulations, if any landowner within 3 miles of a windmill (regardless of height or visibility) decides that they don’t want the windmill, they effectively have veto power, as their permission would now be required prior to any development. 

That’s 15,840 feet.  There are also new, restrictive regulations about how far from a property line a wind turbine can be placed (the “setback”). In 2014, Ohio passed similar restrictions, including a required setback of 1,125 feet, and that, with additional unreasonable regulations, pretty much killed all new wind development in the state.  Some Republican lawmakers there are now seeking to roll back these restrictions, because they made it nearly impossible for wind developers to operate in the state.  According to Representative Matt Dolan (R), “The 2014 wind turbine setback is among the most restrictive in the nation and has created uncertainty for businesses looking to invest in Ohio.  Less restrictive minimum setbacks would benefit many Ohio businesses that manufacture wind turbine components and restore the multibillion dollar economic development projects statewide.” 

But hey, we don’t need to foster multibillion dollar economic development projects in our state.  Protecting the pretty views of a few NIMBYs and cultivating Brewer’s ties to the fracking industry are way more important.

Come share your views on LB373 on Thursday, January 31, 1:30pm in room 1507 of the Capitol. 

Not sure how to do this?  See our testifying at the legislature primer here and here.