Fox's Tucker Carlson pushes misinformation about wind power

On August 17, Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired an inaccurate segment that maligned wind power. Both Carlson and his guest, a Texas politician who has accepted campaign donations from Koch Industries, pushed misinformation about wind turbines.

The Energy and Policy Institute, a pro-renewables watchdog group, reported on the segment before it aired, revealing the behind-the-scenes maneuvering between representatives for Carlson’s show and climate denier John Droz Jr. Droz has worked against clean energy solutions for years alongside a number of groups that are part of the Koch network. Droz was invited to appear on Tucker's Fox News show, but he declined, according to Facebook posts highlighted by the Energy and Policy Institute. Instead, he arranged for Donna Campbell, a Texas state legislator who successfully sponsored anti-wind legislation in her state, to appear in his place.

Campbell used her appearance to claim that wind turbines pose a threat to national security and military readiness. But the military has repeatedly stated that it can coexist with wind farms that are appropriately sited and managed, as retired Navy and Pentagon leader Leo Goff explained last year. There is a robust system in place to ensure that wind farms do not hamper the military. The siting of commercial wind farms near military installations since 2011 has been governed by the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse, which requires developers to work in conjunction with military leadership to address the potential impacts of wind projects. The Federal Aviation Administration also gives the Department of Defense the opportunity to raise concerns before the FAA awards a project a “Determination of No Hazard” and allows it to proceed. The process seems to be working, as demonstrated by the recent cancellation of a proposed wind project in northern Texas because an Air Force base said it would interfere with training and radar. More broadly, the Department of Defense, which considers climate change to be a national security issue, is working to shift its reliance away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

In his segment, Carlson spread other types of misinformation about wind power as well. He blamed turbines for “noise pollution,” but only a small percentage of residents living near wind turbines report hearing noise. Carlson claimed that wind farms are “providing precious little electricity,” but wind accounted for more than 6 percent of total utility-scale generation in the United States in 2017 and it's growing fast. The U.S. Department of Energy asserts that wind energy could feasibly provide 35 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2050. Carlson also complained that turbines “kill a lot of birds,” but nuclear power and fossil-fuel plants kill millions of birds in the U.S. every year, while wind turbines account for only a tiny percentage of bird deaths. 

The use of these inaccurate anti-wind talking points suggest that the real agenda of many wind-energy opponents, including Carlson, Campbell, and Droz, is to hinder the growth of renewable energy and prop up the fossil fuel industry, despite the risks the continued burning of oil, gas, and coal pose to the country. Carlson has denied the scientific consensus on climate change and railed against wind energy in the past. The primary funder of his website The Daily Caller, Foster Friess, is a deep-pocketed climate denier who wants to open up more public land for fossil fuel extraction.

From the August 17 edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight:

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): We move into our ongoing investigation into wind turbines. They have a well-deserved reputation for causing noise pollution, ruining the natural landscape, and providing precious little electricity in return for all of that. They also kill a lot of birds. But could they also be hurting our military? We spoke with Texas state Sen. Donna Campbell about that. Here’s our conversation.


CARLSON: State Sen. Donna Campbell joins us now. Sen. Campbell, thanks a lot for coming on.

DONNA CAMPBELL (TEXAS STATE SENATOR): Thank you so much for having me.

CARLSON: So, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about corporate wind farms. One, that they are unsightly. Two, that they don't produce meaningful and usable energy. Three, that they kill an awful lot of birds. You are saying that there is a fourth problem with them: that they hinder military readiness. Tell us how.

CAMPBELL: You’re right. They do hinder military readiness. And I would say that's the primary problem. I took a tour at our naval air station in Kingsville, where we train over half of our Naval and Marine Corps pilots. And there I saw firsthand -- I had a firsthand look at the wind turbines. They are 500 feet tall, some as tall as two football fields in height, huge blades. And in a cluster, we find that they affect the mission of the base. The flight paths have to be changed. The altitudes have to be changed. It degrades radar. And all of this combined actually affects mission readiness, which in turn affects our national security. It's a threat that needs to be dealt with.

CARLSON: But I notice that they are almost all in low-income, rural areas. You don't see them in Nantucket Sound. You don’t see them off the coast of Santa Monica. Why is it that the people most in favor of corporate wind farms don't have them in their own backyards? Have you noticed that?

CAMPBELL: Yes. And I couldn't have put it better myself, Tucker. They are putting them on the coast down in Texas. They're clustered across the landscape of America, except in the places, of course, where they want to keep the area pretty. Important for us is that we don't compromise our national security.

CARLSON: Well, of course, and that's the new angle in this, and I'm glad you brought it to our attention. Senator, thank you very much for coming on.

CAMPBELL: Thank you so much, Tucker.