Trump and the Turbines

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Donald Trump stands on the 14th fairway during a pro-am round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Bethesda, Md. Trump is worried that wind turbines will spoil the view from his new golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Donald Trump stands on the 14th fairway during a pro-am round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Trump is worried that wind turbines will spoil the view from his new golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Last summer, Bill talked with Scottish documentary filmmaker Anthony Baxter about his award-winning film You’ve Been Trumped! which chronicled Donald Trump’s aggressive efforts to build “the greatest golf course in the world” across ancient sand dunes in Scotland. Despite protests and lawsuits from the local community, Trump got his way: the golf course was built in 2010, uprooting family farmers nearby and infuriating conservationists who worried about the environmental impact of the project on the pristine coastline.

Now Trump is fuming. The Scottish government announced this week that eleven giant wind turbines will be built just off the coast of the state-of-the-art golf course in what the billionaire calls a “ridiculous proposal” that will, in his view, be “the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself.” In a statement, he vowed to put all future phases of his project on hold, including the construction of a hotel, unless the plan is scrapped. “We will spend whatever monies are necessary to see to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed. All over the world they are being abandoned, but in Scotland they are being built.”

Although the offshore wind industry is relatively nascent — there are about 55 or 56 turbines currently in operation — it’s actually the world’s fastest growing source of energy. Just today, Grist reported that the Massachusetts wind energy company Cape Wind announced a $2 billion backing deal with a Japanese bank that “catapults them to a commanding lead in the race to be the first offshore wind project in the U.S.” If the company begins construction this year, customers from Buzzards Bay to Provincetown could be turning on their lights courtesy of Cape Wind’s clean power by 2015. The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal to produce 54 gigawatts from offshore turbines by 2030 — enough to power 10 New York Cities.

The Scottish project is part of a grand plan the country initiated in 2006, when it erected it’s first turbine in the sea. Mother Nature News Network reporter Shea Gunther writes that the Scottish government has set a goal of generating 100 percent of its electricity by renewable energy sources by 2020, and wind power is the means by which they hope to generate most of it. The country has a long history of harnessing the wind. The first electricity producing wind turbine was built in Marykirk, Scotland in 1887, just 30 miles down the road from Aberdeen.

Environmentalists like Friends of the Earth Scotland director Richard Dixon celebrated the news. Dixon told Reuters, “Well done to the Scottish government for standing up to Donald Trump’s threats and bluster.” Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the project, called the European Offshore Wind Centre, was important to Aberdeen. The wind turbines are expected to generate enough energy for almost half of the homes there.

Watch Bill’s interview with Anthony Baxter on the history of Trump’s golf course by the sea.

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