As reported in MIRS Capitol Capsule, several environmental groups have launched a petition drive to encourage Gov. Rick Snyder to develop a regulatory process that would be the first step toward placing wind turbines in the Great Lakes. The Sierra Club, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Ecology Center and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council are promoting the petition. These groups have abdicated their role of protecting the Great Lakes from pollution by their support of placing wind turbines in those very waters.

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It seems puzzling that environmental groups that habitually oppose any activity or development that poses even the most remote threat to the Great Lakes would support the placement of huge oil-containing mechanical devices in those lakes. Wind turbines pose a clear and present danger to polluting the Great Lakes, especially considering the ice conditions present during the winter months.

The support of wind turbines in the Great Lakes by environmental groups indicates they are far less concerned about clean water then they are about environmental ideology. It appears that carbon-based energy has become anathema to the environmental movement to the extent they are willing to sacrifice the protection of Michigan’s greatest natural resource.

The cost effectiveness of producing electricity from wind on land is questionable (no wind farm operates more than 30 percent of the time). Producing electricity from wind offshore is more expensive and riskier.

Michigan lawmakers should ban the location of wind turbines in the Great Lakes. The risk to the environment and the cost to quality of life and reduced tourism are simply unacceptable. If lawmakers cannot summon the courage to ban wind turbines in the Great Lakes, they should at least require it be shown conclusively that offshore turbines pose no threat to polluting the Great Lakes and that it is more cost effective than land-based wind power. Given the choice between environmental protection and environmental ideology, we should choose environmental protection.