Dan Rattiner's Stories

3-2: One Different Vote Would Have Killed the Hamptons’ Conversion to Wind Power

East Hampton approves Deepwater Wind's plan for green energy.

On the eve of the vote at which the Town of East Hampton would either approve or disapprove of granting the offshore wind farm people the right to land their power cables at a landing point at the beach in Wainscott, I got a call from a national publication about the matter.

“What do you think of the plan?” the reporter asked.

“I am all for it,” I said. “I think a proposal to give us enough wind power to provide for all the electricity on the East End should go full steam ahead.”

“That’s not what I thought you were going to say,” the reporter said.

“What did you think I would say?”

“You were against it. You were leading the demonstrations. And it was dangerous and needed to come ashore someplace else.”

“Everybody needs to stop using carbon fuels. Now.”

“Do you know somebody who could say they were against the offshore wind farm?”

“Another thing is, we have all these laws we put in place a generation ago to prevent anybody from putting hard structures on the beach. Those laws are going to have to be repealed.”

“I have to go now,” the reporter said. “Who could you recommend who would say they are opposed?”

I gave her the name of a person who believes that electricity flowing through the cables will electrocute everybody in the area.

Wind farm on the water
Wind farm on the water, Photo: iStock.com

The vote was three to two in favor of granting the easement to allow the cable to come across the beach in Wainscott. I just can’t believe it wasn’t five to nothing. But the opposition to this from fishermen, tourist bureaus, fish advocates and boating enthusiasts was so powerful, it had to be this close.

At 3 to 2, the board could say they tried their hardest to get this to go elsewhere. I even have a fantasy—this is fake news—that the board got together and said we all know this has to be approved, which two of us need to vote against it the most, so it still passes but would take the most flak from not-in-my-backyard neighbors? Perhaps they drew straws.

I’m proud that the board had the good sense to see this through. And already, just a month since they granted the easement, there are desperate cries from some East Hampton home owners, particularly from a group of homeowners on Gardiner’s Bay, pleading with the Town not to remove the “temporary” sandbags that have been saving their homes from flooding and worse for the last 10 years.

Ten years is the most years allowed for “temporary.” So the sandbags have to be removed. But the sandbags cannot be removed. During the next decade we have to do a complete 180 and take the position that then was then and now is now and begin piling up rocks and boulders and reefs and groins to deal with the rising waters.

We have overestimated the brains of the human species since the first warnings went out in the early 1980s. We all know the famous case where scientists offer marshmallows to children. The children can choose to get one now, or they can wait and get two later. They’ll take the one marshmallow now.

Frankly, after all this talk about the advanced brains of the humans, the masters of the universe, the top of the food chain and the miracle of us as the chosen species, I’m disappointed.

Which is to say that is my rationale for still owning a four-wheel-drive gas-guzzling Tahoe so I can drive on the beach, which is there NOW and probably next week, too. I’m as nuts as everybody. As I tell others, my Tahoe will only hurt a little.

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