Private Property Rights: A common issue when wind or solar projects are being proposed

At public hearings about industrial wind and solar projects, the issue of private property rights frequently comes up. Almost always it is a claim that a potential leaseholder has the right to lease his property to a wind or solar developer.

Like many aspects of these contentious matters, this is a decoy: intentionally inserted by the wind or solar advocates to confuse things. (Remember that creating confusion is a major strategy used by those who want to control us: see here.)

Put another way, private property rights claims are a purposeful distraction from the real subject at hand: the net consequences to the community from the proposed wind or solar project.

We live in a democratic country with a long history of protecting private property rights, so very few of us are against them. But what are “Private Property Rights”?

In short, they are the property owner’s right to do what they are legally allowed to do with their property — as long as their actions have no material adverse impact on their neighbors, or the rest of the community.

A parallel concept is that you have a right to extend your fist — yet that right ends at the beginning of another person’s nose. In other words, your “right” ends when it infringes on another person’s rights.

This is also the principle behind zoning, which is in effect in many parts of the country. Without zoning, an adult club could operate next to a school, or a gas station could be built in a residential neighborhood. Zoning protects the rights of property owners while also protecting the general welfare of the community.

Further, if the focus is on “rights” what about the fundamental rights that nearby homeowners have regarding wind or solar projects? Who is protecting those? Should a leaseholder who wants to make a quick buck really have the right to undermine their neighbors’ peaceful use and enjoyment of their homes?

So how does this all apply to a person who wants to get paid for industrial wind turbines (or industrial solar panels) being on their property?

The leaseholder’s private property rights are important and should be carefully considered. However, as stated above, their rights have limits. For example, in most cases they do not have an entitled right to be a knowing causal agent:

  1. of adverse health effects to their neighbors,
  2. of devaluing proximate homes,
  3. of crop yield reductions to nearby farms,
  4. of causing pollution and other interference with aquifers,
  5. of harm to wildlife and livestock of the community,
  6. of degrading the ecosystem in the area,
  7. of impacting hunting in approximate lands,
  8. of reducing tourism to the area,
  9. of interfering with regional weather and navigation radar, or
  10. of raising electricity rates in the region.

Turbine or solar leaseholders are likely unaware of the magnitude and severity of these issues, because they certainly wouldn’t have been told about them by the wind or solar developer, or by our local legislators, or by state agencies.

However, there are studies that document every one of these ten problems. Further, they were done by independent experts — people who have no dog in the fight.

Now it’s likely that landowners (and their developer partner) will arbitrarily deny that these consequences can happen. If they are so sure, then the solution is easy: for them to provide a written, legal, financially-backed guarantee against all of these matters.

Ideally, this would be incorporated into a well-written wind ordinance (like this) that protects the rights of those who are not in this for personal financial gain.

For example, a wind or solar ordinance should include a Property Value Guarantee to protect the most valuable asset of citizens near these projects: their homes.

It is a statutory obligation that local legislators protect the healthsafety, and welfare of the citizens in their community, so they usually have the authority to pass such a guarantee. If it turns out that the wind developer’s claims are accurate (that there is no devaluation), the cost to them will be trivial. So it’s fair to all.

Without proper wind and solar ordinances what we have is a situation where the profits are privatized (e.g., to select landowners and the developer), but the costs are borne by the community.

That is not fair or reasonable from any perspective.

PS — Often when wind or solar promoters lose the private property rights fight, they then try to play their trump card: the proposed development is really all about saving the planet! Not surprisingly that assertion is bogus as well (e.g., see here or here).

©2024. John Droz, Jr. All rights reserved.

Here are other materials by this scientist that you might find interesting:

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