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Renewable energy needs closer look

To the editor:

The proposed Hatfield solar plant is under considerable criticism, reminding me of countless other solar and wind projects stalled by angry residents. The effect on property values and views is understandable, but there is more at stake.

The year 2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states by a full degree. The extraction and burning of coal and fossil fuels causes pollution, health problems and irreversible changes to landscapes. Nuclear plants such as the Vermont Yankee are under fire as well, as they have the potential to be very dangerous.

The consequences are no longer years away. Droughts and storms exacerbated by climate extremes are causing suffering all around the world. Vermont Yankee’s permit has already expired. The National Resource Defense Council links air pollutants to 30 percent of cases of childhood asthma.

This doesn’t just affect people in smoggy cities. Air quality is poor right here in the Pioneer Valley. The consequences of fossil fuels and nuclear dead zones last for hundreds or thousands of years.

The solution to these problems is renewable energy. It is not perfect, but we can’t afford to wait for a perfect option. I hope that communities will be more accepting of renewables in the short term, while continuing to look for even better, more efficient answers in long term.

The Hoosac wind farm in Florida and Monroe, the proposed solar farm in South Amherst and Cape Wind are fantastic examples of projects that are necessary steps toward a renewable future. As the third most densely populated state, we cannot hope to find vast uninhabited swaths of land where no one would see a wind or solar farm.

But with more people comes the need for more electricity. We need to make small dents wherever we can.

Jonathan Simonds

Amherst

It appears the writer has the wrong impression of the Hatfield residents who oppose the Hatfield power plants. No one I've talked to opjects to them. The only objection raised is that they be located outside of residential neighborhoods. No one wants a powerplant in their front yard!

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