Mason County News
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Of Windmills, Powerlines and Sand Plants
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 • Posted October 13, 2010

For months, much of the debate over power lines and windmill turbines has been mostly theoretical for me on a personal basis. Since I live in Katemcy, in the far northern end of the county, I knew that the windmills might be visible on the distant horizon; but, the power lines I would only see during my time spent in town.

Did the possibility of having either near me cause any concern? Yes! Was that something I had to deal with as a reality? No!

And then we heard about the first land transaction. Several hundred acres next door sold. Several hundred more just up the road. Offers were being made to landowners all around Katemcy, especially those with deep reserves of the coveted frac sand.

Little by little, the land purchases have snaked around us. Adjoining landowners have been trying to compare notes on offers made, and they have tried to work together to figure out what the consensus is on the future. My concern is that there really is no future.

The argument that has been made for months on end is that constructing powerlines across Mason County would destroy the unspoiled beauty that makes our area so unique and special. That is a similar argument that has been made for the installation of power-generating windmills, along with concerns about their effect upon wildlife. My personal take was that I feared the change in quality of life once such changes occurred.

Quality of life refers to the ability of someone to enjoy a life that is fulfilling and satisfying, with as few detriments to contentment as could possibly be expected. Factors used to determine quality of life include cost of living; recreational opportunities; health care; ability to socialize; contentment with one's surroundings; and, the ability to adapt to any unforeseen changes that might occur.

There are many people who have moved to Mason County, specifically for our quality of life. There are many of us who have moved back to Mason County because we lacked that quality of life. And there are many more who have remained in Mason County, specifically because of the quality of life they were able to enjoy.

But, all of that can change quickly.

If the land next door has a sand pit, I wonder if I'll still have the quality and volume of water that I've known all my life? Will my nighttime skies lose their tableau of stars when there are mercury-vapor lamps burning all night long? Am I going to have to share dirt roads with trucks hauling loads of sand out at all times of the night and day?

As an advocate of private property rights, I support the ability of any landowner to make decisions about the disposition of their property. I've always been able to count on the practicality and good sense of those around me to make sure that, no matter what they were doing on their property, it did not infringe upon my property rights. Until now.

There are many who will benefit economically by selling right of way easements and land. They will be able to take their money and change their lives, or at least live them more comfortably. Meanwhile, for those of us who prefer to stay in our homes, the world around us crumbles at a dizzying pace and we can only watch. Our property values drop, our wells fail to provide clean water, and our nights are illuminated like Times Square.

Is it worth the money? Is it worth handing over property that your family toiled to acquire? Is it easy to sleep knowing that you changed so many lives?

I've seen the folks at Erna develop such an operation responsibly; but, they seem to be the exception, not the rule. There is a future, it's just not very pretty.

It’s all just my opinion.

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