President Trump lashed out at a familiar foe during a speech on Saturday, calling windmills “monsters” that “kill many bald eagles,” ruin the visual appeal of “magnificent” farms and fields, and “look like hell” after 10 years.
“I never understood wind,” Trump said at the start of the lengthy tangent, days after he became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. “You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody I know. It’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere.”
He continued: “You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right?”
Critics of wind energy often cite carbon emissions from the manufacture, transport and installation of the turbines. But research has found that wind energy has among the smallest carbon footprints of any source of electricity generation. Once in place, studies have found, the turbines significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Yet Trump has repeatedly ranted about
The president’s latest attack on wind turbines came as he kicked off his holiday stay in Florida with an appearance at Turning Point USA’s annual summit. The event by the conservative student group was staged in West Palm Beach, near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, presenting an opportunity for him to, as Politico put it, “bask in the love of some of his fiercest supporters, with scores of 20-somethings donning ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and rhinestone ‘TRUMP’ hair clips.”
In an address that stretched to more than an hour, Trump cycled through some of his greatest hits, saying that he brought back the expression “Merry Christmas” and that his administration “achieved more in this month alone than almost any president has achieved in eight years in office.” He took aim at “Crazy Nancy” Pelosi, “Crooked Hillary” Clinton, Hunter Biden, the “almost totally corrupt” media, the “Washington swamp,” the “illegal, unconstitutional and hyperpartisan impeachment” — and wind turbines.
Trump’s disdain for wind energy can be traced to about a decade ago, when he bought property for a luxury golf resort in Scotland and found out that a wind farm was planned nearby. Concerned that it would detract from his course’s views, he mounted a vigorous campaign against wind energy. Over the years, he has suggested that wind turbines threaten schoolchildren and even cause cancer — a claim not grounded in any robust evidence.
He has also tweeted about them.
On Saturday, Trump arrived at the topic by way of complaining about the Green New Deal, climate change legislation championed by liberal Democrats. After talking about the “tremendous fumes” generated by wind turbines, he moved on to complaints that wind turbines are ugly and kill birds. (They do kill birds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, although collision with glass buildings, communication towers, electrical lines and vehicles are by far the worst offenders.)
“You want to see a bird graveyard?” he asked. “You just go. Take a look. A bird graveyard. Go under a windmill someday. You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen ever in your life.”
There was laughter and scattered applause in the crowd.
“You know, in California, they were killing the bald eagle,” Trump continued. “If you shoot a bald eagle, they want to put you in jail for 10 years. A windmill will kill many bald eagles. It’s true. And you know what? After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off. That’s true, by the way. This is — they make you turn it off after you — and yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That’s okay. But why is it okay for these windmills to destroy the bird population? And that’s what they’re doing.”
Someone yelled, “Because they’re idiots!”
“Okay,” Trump said, laughing. “This is a conservative group, Dan. No, but it’s true. Am I right?” He had referenced Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) earlier in the program.
Then: “I’ll tell you another thing about windmills. And I’m not — look, I like all forms of energy. And I think in — really, they’re okay in industrial areas. Like you have an industrial plant, you put up a windmill — you know, et cetera, et cetera.
“I’ve seen the most beautiful fields, farms, fields — most gorgeous things you’ve ever seen, and then you have these ugly things going up. And sometimes they’re made by different companies. You know, I’m like a perfectionist; I really built good stuff. And so you’ll see like a few windmills made by one company: General Electric. And then you’ll see a few made by Siemens, and you’ll see a few made by some other guy that doesn’t have 10 cents, so it looks like a — so you see all these windows, they’re all different shades of color. They’re like sort of white, but one is like an orange-white. It’s my favorite color: orange.”
That line drew a wave of applause. But Trump wasn’t done with the turbines.
“No, but — and you see these magnificent fields, and they’re owned — and you know what they don’t tell you about windmills?” he asked. “After 10 years, they look like hell. You know, they start to get tired, old. You got to replace them. A lot of times, people don’t replace them. They need massive subsidy from the government in order to make it. It’s really a terrible thing.”
With that, the president moved on to his next target: former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who left the 2020 race almost two months ago.