U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a nuclear energy proponent, is fighting a proposed wind farm in his state near scenic Cumberland Mountain State Park, calling wind turbines "unsightly."
"We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it," Alexander said, according to The Associated Press
Apex Clean Energy, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, is proposing a $130 million project to install 23 wind turbines about 100 miles east of Nashville.
"This project will help bring about cleaner, healthier air, reduce pollution, and create economic growth and jobs in Cumberland County," Apex spokesman Kevin Chandler told the AP.
But Alexander said the project, planned to provide power to 20,000 homes, would spoil the state's natural beauty and contribute to "wasteful taxpayer subsidies" to out-of-state companies, the AP said.
Nashville Public Radio
called Alexander's speech Wednesday on the floor of the U.S. Senate a "10-minute tirade" complete with a visual aid showing a California wind farm.
"Do you really think tourists – or most Tennesseans – want to exchange a drive through the natural beauty of the Cumberland Mountains for a drive along 23 towers more than twice as tall as Neyland Stadium, whose flashing red lights can be seen for 20 miles?" Alexander asked. "If you do, just take another look at the photograph of what has happened to Palm Springs, California."
The project, named the Crab Orchard Wind Project, was announced in January. Construction wouldn't begin before 2017.
Alexander told Environment & Energy Daily
that the federal subsidies motivate companies to build "massive unsightly towers in places where we don't need them or want them."
He said nuclear power is a better option, providing 60 percent of the country's carbon-free electricity, compared with 15 percent provided by wind, which he said "often blows at night when electricity is not needed."
During his remarks, Alexander said he "voted to save our mountaintops from destructive mining techniques. I am just as eager to protect mountaintops from unsightly windmills," Environment & Energy Daily reported.
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