Montana wind energy and cultural heritance

Whilst the discussion about the environmental problems of hydropower (especially large scale) and the apparent danger for birds with regard to wind engines are very commonly discussed I just came across an article dealing with Indian relics and transmission lines for wind energy.

In Montana where once the Blackfeet Indians roamed the plains it has now emerged that the area would be suitable for a larger scale wind park. But the area holds a relic: Teepee rings for hundreds of years ago. Shirley and Larry Salois, Little Shell Indians who have blood ties to the Blackfeet, are pushing back against the path of new electrical lines, citing concerns about their health and their property values, as well as threats to their history and culture. The 230-kilovolt transmission line would go straight through more than a dozen teepee rings. small_flower.gif

The yellow plains have been left undisturbed until now and the $213 million utility project is now challenged by the Salois who won a district court decision already. But the new law regarding the power of eminent domain to condemn and take private property is coming into effect these months after having been passed recently. Personally I have the feeling that what people find difficult to stomach is the power big companies have over their private affairs and homes much rather than the infrastructure to benefit from the windy conditions on the plains.

“The whole problem with this is they’re saying that they have the absolute right to do whatever damn thing they please,” Bruce Maurer, a local farmhouse owner said. The developers aren’t prepared to allow much of alterations, saying “We just can’t take that many steps backwards,” but in some cases it is literally a matter of adjusting plans as to allow an uninterrupted view from a  local’s front room.Wind Energy

I would think especially indigenous people like the Indians, who are often in closer touch with the environment, would appreciate the idea of renewable energy, but then they have so often be overlooked in the decision making process that it is a natural reaction to be hesitant to trust big companies. I do hope developers will become more sensible even if the law backs them, and allow for some compromises. At the end of the day, we won’t be changing the system if we aren’t prepared for any shifts.

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