Mojave wind farm

Kern County has more wind turbines than any other county in the nation, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This is a photo of a wind farm in the Mojave area.

No, Mr. President, windmills don’t cause cancer. What they do cause is the creation of thousands of jobs and businesses in Kern County, and technical innovations that help keep America energy independent.

Once again, President Trump took a swipe at one of his personal punching bags – the nation’s wind energy industry.

“If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value,” Trump said during a speech last week at a Republican fundraiser. “And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, OK?”

There is no evidence that wind turbines cause cancer, nor that they cause property values to decline.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, an ardent Trump supporter, called the president’s cancer claim “idiotic.” Grassley, who represents a state that is a wind energy leader, championed the creation of a tax credit that has helped get the industry on its feet.

But these are not the only recent punches Trump has whiffed past the industry. Last month, during a political rally in Michigan, he falsely contended wind energy is too unreliable to be useful.

“When the wind doesn’t blow, just turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind. Please turn off the television quickly!”

While his remarks drew audience cheers, they ignored the increasingly efficient distribution and use of wind energy, as well as the existence of energy storage systems - some developed in Kern County’s massive wind turbine fields.

Trump’s latest attacks on the wind energy industry are continuations of his personal vendetta that stems from his nasty dispute with Scottish officials over the construction of wind turbines he complained would block the view from his golf course. 

But the president’s more serious attack on the industry is occurring in his proposed 2020 budget, which calls for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to be slashed by 70 percent – from $2.3 billion to $700 million.

The office provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year in grants and financial assistance for clean energy development. It has financed research into innovative technologies, including consumer and business cost-savings. 

Last year, Trump proposed a similar “shutdown budget” for the office. The then Republican-dominated Congress instead provided more than three times the White House’s request.

Shortly after Grassley called Trump’s windmill remarks “idiotic,” the senior senator’s office sent out a new release trumpeting his bipartisan appeal for more federal wind energy funding in the 2020 budget. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, also a Republican, responded by highlighting the important role wind energy plays in her state’s economy.

Kern County is the No. 2 oil-producing county in the nation. More than 72 percent of the state’s oil production and 70 percent of its gas production comes from Kern. 

But the county also is a leader in renewable energy, with more than $30 billion in private investment in solar and wind projects that have created more than 1,600 permanent local jobs and more than 800 manufacturing jobs, according to the Kern Economic Development Corp., which notes Kern is the “No. 1 for wind power capacity in the world.”

Kern County is home to the world’s largest solar plant, BHE Renewables’ Solar Star Project. And the Coso Geothermal Project, located on the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, consists of nine geothermal power plants, each rated at approximately 30 MW. Last month, local agricultural giant The Wonderful Co. announced plans to power its entire operation with only renewable energy by 2025.

We plead with Bakersfield Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who is the House minority leader and long considered to have the president’s ear, to fight for the “wind capital of the world” that is in his district.

Convince Trump to stop his personal vendetta against the industry. Supporting renewable energy development is in the nation’s and Kern County’s best interest.