This week President Trump made a series of comments about wind energy that were not grounded in fact and ignore the many benefits wind power brings to communities filled with his supporters.
First let’s tackle the most erroneous claim: Wind turbines do not cause cancer. The American Cancer Society issued this statement in response to the President: “The American Cancer Society is unaware of any credible evidence linking the noise from windmills to cancer.”
Millions of people around the world live and work near operating wind turbines without adverse health effects, and over 20 studies of credible, peer-reviewed scientific data and various government reports in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom find wind farms pose no negative health effects. The latest confirmation comes from Iowa, no stranger to wind with over 4,600 operating wind turbines. Researchers from Iowa University’s School of Public Health concluded, “[R]esearch studies have established no adverse health effects.”
America’s “wind belt” stretches through red states
In reality, America’s biggest wind states supported the President in 2016. The “wind belt” stretches through the Heartland and includes Republican strongholds like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and North Dakota. Iowa, which voted for the President in 2016, is second only to Texas in installed wind capacity. And wind energy’s growth in this region has brought substantial economic development to rural communities.
In fact, American wind power has invested $125 billion in states that voted for the President, and almost 80 percent of the wind farms built in the U.S. since 2016 are in states the President carried. At the Congressional level, 78 percent of Republican districts have a wind farm, wind-related factory, or both.
And clean energy is popular with Republican audiences. For example, 63 percent of Texas Republicans think using more clean energy will help the economy and create jobs. Nationally, 79 percent of Republicans support increased reliance on wind power according to a 2018 Pew survey.
That means wind is bringing new opportunities to farming and factory towns in these states. For example, next generation manufacturing jobs and wind-related factories abound in states that were crucial to the President’s win: Ohio has 60 wind factories, Michigan 26, Wisconsin 28, and Pennsylvania 29. Overall more than 500 U.S. factories build wind turbine parts.
In rural communities, wind farms are creating well-paying jobs for young people in operations and maintenance. Wind turbine technician is America’s second fastest growing job according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, expected to increase by 96 percent over the next decade. Many wind positions go to the men and women who served our country, as veterans find wind jobs at a rate 67 percent higher than the average U.S. industry. The skills, dedication and teamwork they learn while serving make them invaluable contributors to American wind power.
Wind also brings nearly unmatched economic development to rural America. Wind projects pay over $1 billion every year in state and local taxes and lease payments to landowners hosting turbines. That extra income helps towns invest in schools, fix roads and fund emergency services. For farmers and ranchers receiving lease payments, this stable income can be the difference between continuing a multi-generation tradition and ending a way of life.
In the future we hope the President gets the facts about wind power and recognizes what a positive impact it has in the communities that supported him in 2016.