There's more to it!

To the Editor:

Referring to Jim Sawhill's letter on 1-18-14 about the Dirty Wind Industry, I was surprised to read about a much different aspect of wind production, but with the belief that there is always more to a story, I asked my computer engineer son with the background to look into such claims. This what he found out:

"He is right that rare earth processing is a dirty process. So is a lot of other industrial stuff. I suspect he is confusing low level waste released by rare earth mining with high level waste from nuclear power plants, but it doesn't really matter. Something on the order of 100,000 tons of rare earth metals are mined every year so the portion that he assigns to wind is pretty small. Those metals are used in modern generators to increase the efficiency.

I suspect they are used in generators in nuclear, hydro, coal, and gas power plants as well. The fact that these particular generators are driven by wind really doesn't matter. Once you build the turbine, running it on wind doesn't cause the release of any more nuclear waste. (also true with hydro) That is not the case with nuclear or even coal. Coal contains trace amounts of nuclear material. .. the US releases on the order of 5000 tons of uranium and thorium per year by burning coal.

Bottom line - There certainly is work to be done on cleaning up the processing of rare earth metals, but it makes no sense to use that as an argument against wind as the same generating capacity fueled by another source will still consume those materials."

I still have my doubts about the need for more wind generation for Vermont especially in the Northeast Kingdom, but this does add a new dimension to the discussion.

Frank Landry

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

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