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Wind Farm Naysayers? Who Are They?

Mon, 12/23/2019 - 15:23

No matter what the project is, there are always going to be people opposed to it. It is just human nature to watch out for one’s own interests, to suggest that new infrastructure and essential services are fine as long as they are put somewhere else.

This is among some of the reasons why the statements of Wainscott naysayers about the Orsted Deepwater Wind project make little sense. For one thing, its impact there would be minimal. Digging a little deeper, however, the matter of just who the Citizens for the Protection of Wainscott might be is far stranger than at first appears.

The undertaking so bitterly opposed in Wainscott from the outset was an underground electrical cable. Sure, there were to be several in-ground vaults, but all in all the disruption would be temporary — less in fact than a recent water main project that wound its way through much of the hamlet. By this standard, the Orsted critics would be cooking over wood fires, using whale oil for lighting, and trekking to the outhouse when nature called. And we have never heard them complain about other public works with anywhere near this level of drama.

The naysayers have gone after the deal between Orsted and the Long Island Power Authority, complaining about the cost, which is misleading. Though the rate would be higher than what is anticipanted for other, larger-scale wind projects, the electricity generated by the South Fork Wind Farm will provide only a small portion of the overall supply to the grid and have only a negligible effect on individual bills.

Just who make up Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott is a bit of a mystery, too. Among the handful of people publicly associated with it is its former chairman, Alexander R. Edlich, a senior partner at the McKinsey and Company consulting firm in Manhattan. As of this week, Mr. Edlich’s wife, Gouri, says she is the group’s chairwoman.

Also odd, websites associated with the South Fork Wind Farm opposition were registered anonymously.

Speaking now for the supposed citizens group is Michael Mc­Keon of Mercury L.L.C., a longtime state and national lobbyist for a leading firm, who was director of communications for New York Gov. George Pataki. Among Mr. McKeon’s other political work was Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid and the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s 2006 bid for New York State attorney general.

And get this: Mr. Mckeon and Mercury have been linked to Paul Manafort, the  former Trump campaign chairman jailed in connection with work he directed on behalf of Ukraine.

Also involved in the Mercury-Ukraine effort was Rick Gates, a key witness in the Mueller probe, who was recently sentenced to a reduced jail term in exchange for his cooperation with investigations into money laundering and bank fraud by Mr. Manafort and others.

This is not to suggest that there is a conspiracy of any kind behind Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott. But it is not as grassroots as the people behind it would like us to believe.

The group has been taking its message online as well, spending more than $15,000 for “The Truth About Orsted” advertisements since 2018.

Despite this, its membership at this point is known to be just two people — Mr. and Ms. Edlich. Why they have gone from fighting a plan for an underground cable to taking on Orsted and wind power more generally — and bringing in a top lobbying firm that was involved in the Ukraine scandal — is anybody’s guess.

 

 


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