Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took some time this past week to visit the all-important swing state of Scotland, during a visit to the opening of one of his luxury golf courses outside Aberdeen. Trump praised his son for his management of the property, took reporters on tours and used the occasion to praise the Brexit vote.
What went unmentioned, however, was the long battle Trump fought with the locals in developing his golf course. His biggest enemy during that fight? Wind energy.
“Ugly monstrosities” and “horrendous machines” is what Trump called the clean energy structures in the planned 11-turbine wind farm off the Aberdeen coast. As The Guardian reported in 2012, he harangued Scotland’s first minister at the time, Alex Salmond, writing him to say, “With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history.”
What prompted this outrage from Trump? Well, these wind turbines had the audacity to get in the way of the pristine shoreline view of Trump’s golf course. So he led a crusade against wind energy in Scotland, going far beyond just targeting this specific project.
“[S]omeone has to defend Scotland’s unspoilt wilderness from the curse of wind turbines before it’s spoiled forever,” The Telegraph reported him saying at his office in 2012 (Trump’s golf course was built on top of protected sand dunes).
Trump claimed wind energy is actually detrimental to the environment, that it would kill the Scottish economy and that it would damage the coastline. He called the Scottish government’s investment in wind energy a “dangerous experiment.”
“I do not share his optimism about a future based on wind, especially when such plans have failed and caused so much damage in Europe, North America and so many other parts of the world,” Trump said.
The business mogul even went so far to finance a political action group called Communities Against Turbines Scotland to oppose wind energy in Scotland.
As he often does now, he also took to Twitter to drive home his point:
Ugly industrial wind turbines are ruining the beauty of parts of the country–and have inefficient unreliable energy to boot.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2012
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2012
Eventually, Trump lost his legal challenge to block the wind farm’s installation in late 2015.
His tune changed when he came to Iowa during the caucus. When asked about wind energy by a woman in Newton whose husband works at TPI (the wind turbine manufacturer), he responded, “Well, I’m okay with it.” He said he supports subsidies for its development.
That was probably a wise walk-back for the voters of Iowa. The state currently receives over 30% of its electricity from wind power, and many expect that to rise to 40% within the next decade. It’s created over 6,000 jobs in Iowa, revitalized many rural counties that now host large wind farms, has generated money for land owners who allow turbines on their land, saves Iowans money on their energy costs and is improving the state’s air quality.
But would Trump keep to that stand if he were elected to the presidency? We’ve seen time and again how Trump’s past disputes and grudges play a large role in how he sees the world.
One could look to Trump’s big energy speech back in May in South Dakota. He had plenty of good things to say about oil and fracking, but he notably had a lot of caveats when it came to wind and solar power.
“Wind is very expensive,” Trump said. “I mean, wind, without subsidy, wind doesn’t work. You need massive subsidies for wind. There are places maybe for wind. But if you go to various places in California, wind is killing all of the eagles.”
“You know if you shoot an eagle, kill an eagle, they want to put you in jail for five years,” he continued. “Yet the windmills are killing hundreds and hundreds of eagles. One of the most beautiful, one of the most treasured birds — and they’re killing them by the hundreds and nothing happens. So wind is, you know, it is a problem. Plus it’s very, very expensive and doesn’t work without subsidy. Despite that, I’m into all types of energy.”
But more than any of that, we’ve all had front-row seats to Trump’s persona and style of thinking during this election. Despite some nice words about wind energy while he was in Iowa, Trump fought a long battle against wind farms in Scotland in which he outright insisted they were bad for the economy and the environment. When he spoke about wind in his energy speech, he felt the need to take inaccurate pot shots at the industry.
So why should Iowans, who are exceptionally proud of their role in clean energy, trust what Trump would do with our expanding wind energy endeavor in the White House?
by Pat Rynard