NC wind farm should get OK

The Amazon Wind Farm project had broad backing when proposed, including from Gov. Pat McCrory. The governor attended a groundbreaking in July, and the benefits of the farm will be considerable in local tax revenues and lease payments to landowners in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties in northeastern North Carolina. The online retailer Amazon is going to buy the electricity from the 105-turbine wind farm for a data center in Northern Virginia.

So here’s a clean, revenue-producing project of help to the state and its citizens. What’s not to like?

Nothing if you’re a farmer in a depressed part of the state, and nothing if you support clean energy and renewable energy projects. But if subscribe to the knee-jerk philosophy that any government support for renewable energy is bad government and wind farms amount to a liberal conspiracy, well, then, you are strongly opposed.

And you may be a part of the Civitas Institute, one of several of conservative groups associated with Raleigh’s Art Pope, a financial backer of conservative causes.

In this project – the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina and one of the first in the southeastern United States – the libertarian-leaning Civitas Institute has found perhaps the only industry that it thinks needs more regulation.

Civitas is backing a Perquimans County couple who has filed suit against the state Department of Environmental Quality, raising doubts about the farm’s impact on property values, the risk it might pose to creatures of the air and the noise it might produce. The call for more regulatory review is a way for Civitas to try to raise objections to the farm, even though it, and perhaps other farms, might prove a tremendous economic resource for a part of the state that needs one.

Plaintiffs Gigi Badawi and her husband, Stephen Owens, live less than a mile from the farm site. They are asking for more study on noise and wildlife and also want public hearings. The couple and Civitas basically want to throw enough wrenches in the works to stop the project cold, and enough delay could do that.

State officials, and remember these people are part of a Republican administration, say the project is ready to go and has gotten all the permits necessary for it to proceed. Civitas is claiming that taxpayers are on the hook here, but that’s a woeful oversimplification of the issue and opponents know it.

This is a good, clean and well-reviewed project that needs to proceed on its schedule without political interference.