Monday, February 17, 2014

Who is Funding CFRA's Opposition to Illinois and Iowa Residents?

Last summer, a handful of us went to our local state representatives and gave them an update on RICL.  There will representatives of BLOCKRICL and the Illinois Landowner Alliance and few others of us meeting our State Representatives and State Senators.  At one of those updates, a state official quickly asked “Who is funding your organization?”  The representative from the ILA responded that it is being funded by farmers, land owners, and residents in Illinois who are opposing Clean Line Energy.  It was surprising the state official asked the question so quickly and so sharply, but then again this is Illinois, Land-of-Blago and Pay-to-Play. 

Early on in this grassroots fight against unnecessary transmission and the Rock Island Clean Line, we learned about “Astroturf” organizations.  These organizations are sometimes newly made groups paid and fronted by the transmission companies made to look like there is a ground swelling public support for the transmission projects.  Make a nice website, and people will think it’s legitimate.  These organizations are phony as Astroturf is to grass and sooner or later Clean Line Energy would turn to them.  They want to appear to be actual grassroots but the funding comes elsewhere.  While some previous transmission projects have created their own nonprofit organizations, it appears Clean Line has found an organization willing to support their projects.  It’s also easier to find an organization supporting them in Nebraska rather than Iowa or Illinois. 

The Center for Rural Affairs favors of large scale wind energy companies placing wind turbines throughout the Midwest and act to be a “reasonable” voice for siting transmission projects across tens of thousands of farmland acres.  Ironically, the Center of Rural Affairs opposes large scale hog farms.  According to the Center of Rural Affairs large scale wind turbine projects are good but large scale hog farms associated with corporate meat packers are bad.  

Does this make sense to anyone?  Is this contrast in positions logical or defendable?

Large hog farms are bad. 
Large wind farms are good.
Privately owned powerlines crossing entire states are also a good thing according to the Center for Rural Affairs.

Make a person wonder who is funding the Center for Rural Affairs positions. 

How many farmers even heard of the Center for Rural Affairs before their support of Clean Line Energy?
American Wind Energy Association?
Wind on the Wire? 
Clean Line Energy?

Seriously, it would be interesting for the Center for Rural Affairs to explain why corporate affiliated hog farms are evil, but corporate owned wind farms are good for the Midwest.  I know a lot more farm families trying to make a go with the hog farms than I know of farm families attempting to make a living from wind energy.  Nevertheless, wind farms are still corporate jobs, plain and simple and a bit offensive for the Center for Rural Affairs to tell us it’s “clean” and virtuous. 
Here’s an interesting article supporting the Center from last fall.  It largely reads like a Center for Rural Affairs press release.  Ironically, the first paragraph can easily be plagiarized, altered slightly, and it represents Clean Line Energy and the Center for Rural Affairs more than the people it opposes.
Public power means doing more than lining the pockets of out-of-state companies (Clean Line Energy). The same tired arguments, focusing on claims of economic benefit, energy “savings”, and cost lose credibility each day as utilities in bordering states continue to invest in their local economy. If wind energy works, then let them pay the same open market price as other energy providers.  Iowa and Illinois residents and ratepayers deserve better.
Like the state senator asked us last summer, who is funding the Center for Rural Affairs opposition to Illinois and Iowa farmers and rural communities?

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