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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Jul 30, 2008

The Dickinson County Board of Adjustment Monday night had the vision and community mindedness to approve a conditional use permit for seven wind turbines that will power the Superior Ethanol plant on the west edge of Superior.

Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative is doing the project, along with a similar project to power the Lakota ethanol plant, both of which are the first of their kind in the nation.

Arguments against wind turbines, that they are unsightly, noisy and destroy the aesthetic beauty of the landscape, should be placed alongside the question of whether coal-fired electric plants are unsightly, noisy, and destroy the aesthetic beauty of the landscape. This nation still gets a huge percentage of its energy from coal. Not that there is anything wrong with that per se, but by comparison, wind energy is far better for the environment.

The synergy of alternative energies is to be commended. Both wind energy and ethanol are something that a few years ago were sheer theory. Now they’re reality.

The next step is to bring dairy cattle back to northern Iowa.

There’s a lot of good reasons for that. First, of course, is high dairy prices. The second is that dairy cattle thrive on west distillers grains, a primary co-product from the ethanol production process. Having dairy cattle near ethanol plants would save the cost of drying and shipping distillers grains outside the area. The result then would be a three-fold synergy of renewable energy processes, four-fold if you consider the potential for methane gas from manure.

The time has come for all citizens to view the big picture. Perhaps if we continue to work toward energy independence in Iowa, we can become more independent from rising oil and gas prices.

And let’s do it now.