Local Communities Can Prevail Over Multi-National Corporations

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Originally published on The ECOreport.

Anti-wind activist Kevon Martis just sent out an update about SB 438, the bill requiring Michigan to obtain 15% of its electricity from renewable sources. Martis’ initial response was discouragement. Then someone drew his attention to a clause in the final draft of that legislation that allows townships and counties to retain control over zoning for wind energy. Martis was reminded that local communities can prevail over multi-national corporations — but it takes a lot of work.


That’s a paraphrase of state Senator Mike Shirkey’s letter, which I should quote in full:

“I can understand being disappointed. But I strongly urge you to not be bitterly disappointed.

“We had success with local control preservation amendment. We had excellent conversations amongst members understanding why this was important. There was a very effective floor speech given to help establish legislative intent. And we will now have an Energy Committee Chair in the House who will be a strong advocate.

“I’d like to offer help in getting your group aligned, at least on the narrow topic of protecting local zoning control, with the Township and County associations.

“This round of energy policy update demonstrates that ‘us little guys’ can prevail over the big guys….but it’s hard work. And takes time.

“So, I am encouraging you to not be bitter but resolved. Help us set an agenda for next session to establish priorities and a ‘win plan’ to keep ratepayers as the top priority.

“Thank you for your work.

“Mike Shirkey

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, speaks on the Senate floor on Thursday, Nov. 10 defending electric choice and lower electric rates for taxpayers - Courtesy Michigan State Senator Mike Shirkey

My Common Ground With Kevin Martis

Unlike Martis, I am no longer “against” wind energy. I was prior to seeing my first wind farms in Germany. Some of the reports from Southern California are appalling, but wind farms appear to be working for much of Europe. I still have questions, but would describe my present attitude to wind energy as curious/intrigued. (I would love to see more wind farms and, if I get a chance, want to go to the top of a turbine.)

There are too many reports of “wind turbine syndrome” to ignore. I’ve come to believe that the probable cause is human response to the turbines, rather than the turbine themselves. Otherwise we’d be hearing more about “airport syndrome” or “traffic syndrome,” as they are both noisier and more likely to generate high frequency sounds. However if living beside wind turbines makes people sick and there are alternatives, we need to ask which is more important: the people, or the tool?

Where I live, in British Columbia, the runaway corporations are in the fossil fuel sector. Kinder Morgan wants to build a pipeline, carrying diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands, through the most populated area of the province. This is expected to result in a seven-fold increase of tanker traffic. A major oil spill would devastate our tourist, fisheries, and marine sectors. While this project may be profitable for Kinder Morgan, there is very little benefit for the average British Columbian and much risk. So cities like Vancouver, Burnaby, and Victoria, environmental groups and many First Nations oppose this pipeline.

We have similar problems with plans for massive expansion of the coal and natural gas sectors.
Building a pipeline in Alberta by Jasonwoodhead23 via Flickr (CC BY SA< 2.0 License)

Which Is More Important: The Will Of The People?  Or Corporate Profits?

Opposing wind turbines may not sound as “green” as our struggles in BC, but the underlying issues can be similar.

Some might ask, “What about the need to curb our emissions?”

This is a very real problem. Our weather patterns already changing and the possibility of holding the rise of global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius seems increasingly unlikely.

However, we have choices. There are many technologies and strategies to curb emissions. We have choices.

All too often, the real question behind the opposition of rural communities to industrial scale projects appears to be which is more important: the will of the people, or corporate profits?

Like Martis, I believe local communities should have the final word.

We supposedly live in a Democracy, a term that originated with two Ancient Greek  words: “demos” (“people”) and “kratos” (power).

This struggle is being fought throughout North America and there numerous examples of local communities prevailing over multi-National corporations.

Photo Credits:

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Video

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales