2013-12-12 / Commentary

Shady wind foes cast a chill

BY MILES GRANT
GUEST COLUMN


Miles Grant Miles Grant If you’re going to join the public debate on our climate and energy future, should you have to disclose who you work for? Or should you be allowed to attack clean energy without ever saying who’s paying you to do so?

That’s the question when it comes to Marc Brown, a New Hampshire resident and former staffer with Washington, D.C.- based polluter front groups such as FreedomWorks, who’s written columns in newspapers across New England attacking offshore wind energy.

Brown now runs an ice cream shop, but he’s taken on a second job: He’s been hired to create a new front group, the New England Ratepayers Association, which calls itself a “nonprofit dedicated to protecting utility ratepayers in New England.”

When pressed by a reporter with Commonwealth magazine, Brown wouldn’t disclose a single supporter.

That secrecy isn’t an accident. It’s exactly what his funders pay him for.

Judging by Brown’s writing, he has one goal: Stop the offshore Cape Wind project.

Is Brown being funded by outof state energy providers hoping Massachusetts won’t take a big step towards a cleaner, more selfsufficient future with Cape Wind?

Whether his employers are Canadian hydroelectric interests, natural gas pipeline companies or someone else entirely, without Brown’s cover, their attacks on Cape Wind would be seen for what they are — energy giants attacking an upstart that threatens their business model.

Meanwhile, public officials charged with looking out for ratepayers are solidly behind Cape Wind. The project not only offers dramatic reductions in carbon pollution and provides a toehold for a new industry and jobs, it provides a stable source of energy not subject to fossil fuel price swings.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities concluded Cape Wind’s benefits exceed its costs, and that the agreement provides adequate protections for ratepayers, saying it “offers significant benefits that are not currently available from other renewables.”

I’m sick of shadowy front groups trying to dictate energy decisions. For too long, we’ve been pawns of polluter lobbyists and backroom deals, and what has it gotten us? Dirty air and a changing climate with rising sea levels, extreme weather and ocean acidification.

By contrast, Cape Wind supporters in conservation, public health, business and labor are so transparent they put all their names on one website, CapeWind- Now.com.

Conservationists know climate change is the single biggest threat in our time facing New England’s wildlife.

Just this month, warming waters were a key factor in the sudden shutdown of the Gulf of Maine’s shrimp season. New Hampshire’s moose population is tumbling, with heat stress and ticks gone wild in warming winters as prime suspects, and now there are concerns for southern Maine’s moose as well.

We need to keep moving forward with responsibly developed wind energy.

Our coastal waters have some of the best offshore wind energy resources in the world, the technology to harvest it is advanced and operating at great scale in Europe, and we have workers ready to do the job.

It’s time to get it done.

MILES GRANT is senior communications manager with the National Wildlife Federation in Fairhaven, Mass.

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