While enough money funneled through organizations like ALEC or the funding web of Koch et al. can purchase many legal outcomes in the US, it appears the Trump Organisation spending train was unable to sway Lord Doherty and the Scottish judicial system in favor of its agenda to reject the planned construction of an offshore wind turbine farm off the coast of Aberdeen in east Scotland. Naturally, Trump's desire to see approval for the £230m European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) overturned rose from a grave international business concern: that the turbines would obstruct the view from his elite golf club at Menie Estates.
More below the Kos-on-the-Green orange flagstick.
Lord Doherty's decision to dismiss the formal petition against the planned wind farm is accompanied by praise and sighs of relief from the Scottish ministers and EU environmental groups, and although the Trump Organisation plans to pursue further legal action against the proposed development, this should be viewed from the US perspective as a shift in priorities from which we can learn in our own power struggle between big money and environmental policy.
First, a little background on the proposed turbine farm: The EOWDC would not be a commercial electrical facility, but a test site for research and development to work out bugs and increase efficiency prior to commercial installation in European countries. Since the Fukushima reactor meltdown in 2011, many European nations are shying away from nuclear power as a renewable energy source, leaning instead toward less volatile options like solar power and wind energy. Once built, this deployment center will serve as a jumping-off point for energy companies to expand wind farm technology throughout Europe.
Now to the central questions of not only why Lord Doherty's decision matters in international environmental policy, but also, and perhaps more importantly for us, why millionaires like Trump feel justified in trying to harpoon green energy developments simply because the view from the fairway won't be as picturesque.
The first question is answered easily enough. In addition to the hope of decreasing European dependence on fossil fuels, construction of the EOWDC is projected to create a substantial number of jobs in the Aberdeen area, as well as produce obvious positive improvements to Scottish infrastructure. Looking from this perspective, Lord Doherty's decision appears to be the easiest possible type of political choice, but to me there is also a more subtle victory for Scotland at play in his thought processes on this issue. What we see here is a Scottish official choosing the good of the many, his common countrymen, via job growth and expansion of long-term renewable energies, over the sway of money and big business. Now, if you're like me, you believe that this should be the function of government (to stand for the people, what an idea!), but sadly you're also all too aware of the ability of lobbies and corporate interests to buy precedence over the common long-term interests of "the little people," especially in the US, so we should all lend a nod of gratitude to Lord Doherty and the Scottish ministers who first approved the EOWDC project.
In order to answer this second question, we must analyze a few fundamental ideas that dominate the field of uber-wealthy conservativism, which are detailed at greater length in this fabulous NY Times op-ed, and this insightful diary from Kos's own Patriot Daily News Clearing House. One truth that appears to encapsulate the worldviews of many super-wealthy moguls like Trump is the idea that no amount of money is ever enough. When you're dealing with finances on the level of many BILLIONS of dollars, money is no longer a tangible sum used to fund your daily existence, but a unit of measurement that directly translates to your level of power and influence. Money is weight to be thrown around to achieve your political goals and protect your many other multi-million-dollar interests. This factor is key in analyzing the Scottish rejection of Trump's petition, as well as the Trump Organization's response:
"Today's decision has not altered our unwavering commitment to protect our investment in Scotland.
"We are reviewing Lord Doherty's decision and will pursue the legal options available to us as recommended by our counsel.
"Communities world-wide continue to challenge the destructive proliferation of wind turbines and we will remain a fierce opponent at the forefront of this battle.
"Despite today's decision, the EOWDC proposal has numerous economic and legal obstacles that will ultimately prevent its construction."
So, despite the many economic and environmental advantages that constructing this wind field will bring to Scotland, Trump and his organization refer to the expansion of wind energy as "destructive," attempting to drive a legal battle and media rhetoric toward the project's eventual demise, all in the name of maintaining a nice view from the tenth green for his golf course's wealthy patrons (impacting his bottom line). Which brings me to the next point about the culture of super-wealth: That there is an inherent disconnect between people like Trump and the necessity of curbing emissions in the name of stemming global climate change because they and their progeny will be able to buy their way out of being impacted by any negative effects like sea level rise and increased severe weather threats. Oil wealth and big-money connections in that sector aside, Trump also has no reason to view the turbine project as more important than something as trivial as the view from his golf course because his life will never be altered by the continued pumping of carbon emissions into the air (to then be absorbed by the oceans). If sea level rise threatens Trump Tower in New York, he can simply board his private jet and relocate to the Alps.
Therein lies the danger of the super-wealthy dominating US politics, and the reason we should look to take a page from Scotland's book. When the effects of climate change are meaningless to you, why should you and your companies take the financial hit of turning from fossil fuels and supporting green energy? Us "common folk" don't have the option to simply run from the harmful effects of carbon-dependence, and must therefore insist that our politicians stand for our interests in this debate, rather than the interests of wealth and big business.
One way to add your voice is by signing this Kos Petition to President Obama, demanding that he reject the proposal for the destructive Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
12:58 PM PT: Wow, I wander away to the laundromat for two seconds and make the Community Spotlight list! I've been a lurker for years, but this is only my second diary. I never expected to make the list this soon...thanks for the vote of confidence, Kossacks!