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Earth Day postmark stirs up wind opponents

By   /   April 30, 2013  /   16 Comments

By Tom Steward  | Watchdog Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS — You don’t have to be a stamp collector to notice something different about some of your snail mail lately.

The cancellation mark rolling over the stamp on many envelopes consists of four stick-like towers and a shimmering sun over an ink-blotted tag line for “Earth Day 2013”.

The seemingly innocuous US Postal Service (USPS) Earth Day postal mark will be gone like the wind as of May 1, but some opponents of corporate wind power projects have no intention of letting it go.

“We are VERY unappreciative of this symbol being used by the USPS for Earth Day,” Marie McNamara recently emailed postal officials in Washington. “Thanks for putting us on record as strongly objecting to the symbol of industrial wind turbines as a postmark.  Thanks for putting us on record as wanting to see the postmark go away immediately.”

Marie McNamara, wind farm opponent, is pressing USPS officials for answers on  who asked and paid for wind and solar postmark.

MAIL PROBLEM: Marie McNamara, wind farm opponent, is pressing USPS officials for answers on who asked and paid for wind and solar postmark.

McNamara belongs to a group of residents opposing one of the nation’s most controversial wind farm proposals, due to health and safety concerns, as well as the potential impact on bald eagles and other wildlife in southeastern Minnesota.

After her initial annoyance, McNamara and others began looking into how a sector of the energy industry they have spent so many years fighting succeeded in promoting its message in mailboxes around the country.

“I was curious who wanted it and who paid for it?” long-time wind farm opponent Kristi Rosenquist said.  “From my perspective, I’m in a community that’s been under siege for four years.  The last thing I want to see on my mail in a bunch of wind turbines.”

Wind and solar energy proponents also took note.

“Wind turbines and the sun symbol are two icons easily recognizable as symbols of environmental stewardship,” blogged Paul Gipe, a longtime alternative energy advocate. “So it was appropriate that I recently received a letter from my mother postmarked Indianapolis, Indiana that celebrates Earth Day 2013 with an image of wind turbines and the sun.”

It’s not clear whether the Obama administration, USPS or a group associated with the wind or solar industry requested and submitted the special postmark.  McNamara has requested USPS officials in Washington to release the name or group behind the campaign and how much it cost.

USPS spokesman Peter Nowacki in Minneapolis confirmed the Earth Day postmark falls under the category of “special cancellations”.

Guidelines posted online by USPS define limits on design, sponsors and reason for the postmark. According to those guidelines, the sponsor of the postmark must cover all costs associated with its use.

“Special cancellations are authorized only if the scheduled observance is for a national purpose for which Congress has made an appropriation, or is of general public interest and importance,” the post office website states. “Special cancellations are approved for a definite period not to exceed 6 months, and must not be conducted for private gain or profit.”

Cartoon by Marie McNamara opposing local 78 megawatt wind farm in Southeastern Minnesota.

WIND PROTEST: Cartoon by Marie McNamara opposing local 78 megawatt wind farm in Southeastern Minnesota.

McNamara has raised the issue of whether the wind and solar image violates guidelines that appear to prohibit the use of illustrations in “special cancellations”.

U.S. Rep. John Kline, their congressman and a committee chairman who’s been sympathetic to their cause, agreed to look into the matter.

“We are questioning if this special cancellations mark has been done according to rules,” said McNamara, a commercial artist. “My understanding of the rules is that it’s not to be an image but only wording to promote the event, which was Earth Day.”

Postal service representatives in Washington have passed along McNamara’s complaints to officials, while referring further complainants to the USPS consumer advocate.

Contact Tom Steward at tom@watchdogminnesota.org.

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Tom Steward covers government waste, spending and policy issues in his home state of Minnesota. Also a documentary filmmaker and in-depth broadcast journalist, Tom's work has appeared on NPR, Animal Planet, WCCO-TV, WGBH-TV, PBS, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, KSTP-TV, CBC, among other outlets. Highlights include the fall of the Berlin Wall, a Peabody Award, the first footage in the wild of the endangered Sumatran tiger and rhino and countless individuals who shared their stories, big and small. Steward served as a communications strategist in the U.S. Senate before returning to reporting on issues and people often overlooked by other media.

  • Belle13A

    Great Story Tom. I too was wondering why the post office was advertising windmills. There is no indication this postmark was for Earth Day.
    It wouldn’t be the first time the federal government broke it’s own rules. I’m not surprised to see them use the Post Office as a propaganda tool. Was AWEA involved in any way?

  • hankie123

    Thanks for the story. I was appalled when I first saw the postmark promoting a private industry so full of controversy. I assume it was being done to promote the continuation of the production tax credit. I received a letter coming from IL I contacted via e-mail the USPS – they would look into it next level it’s chosen by the local post office, and they would check at another level. Then heard nothing. When I got a letter from another state I realized it was national. I can’t believe the USPS would alllow themselves to become a pawn to this industry. When people are abandoning them homes because of wind turbine noise, and this industry is asking USFW for a 30 year (as opposed to current 5 yr) “take/kill” permit of bald and golden eagles – I don’t believe Industrial wind turbines are a good symbol for “earth Day”.

  • Belle13A

    Minnesota, where I live has a veteran advised to leave his home in the Bent Tree Wind project and I live where the New Era project is proposed. They lied and said there were no Bald Eagles to get a site permit. They then claimed Eagle Baiting by citizens wen FWS said the area which is in the Mississippi Flyway was estimated to have 418 resident & migratory Bald Eagles using this Important Eagle Use Area. Proposed mitigation by the developer: Cut down trees used for nests & roosting, food based management, Rapid Road kill Removal at local government expense, elimination of food sources: rabbits, squirrels etc. In other words, destroy the local habitat! New Era has also applied for an Incidental Take Permit to kill Bald Eagles free of prosecution at this proposed site.
    Picturing Turbines as postmarks is simply a propaganda tool.
    Earth Day has been sold to promote a boondoggle.

  • rob pforzheimer

    Nextera (Nexterror) destroys Bald Eagle Nest & Habitat in Ontario
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtF6TUYfj8c

    Wind developers couldn’t care less about the environment.
    Obama has appointed NextEra (FPL) CEO Lewis Hay III (the turd) to be the Sec’t of the treasury. FPL pays no taxes on $7 billion in income.
    This postmark is an insult.

  • DOOGYMD

    YOU PEOPLE ARE SO UP YOUR ASSES ABOUT THIS WHOLE PROJECT ALL WORRIED ABOUT YOUR OLD ASS THAT WILL BE DEAD IN 10 YEARS , THINK ABOUT IT , YOU OLD ASSES HAVE BUILT THIS WORLD WHAT IT IS TODAY , LEAVE YOU HOME ONCE AND SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE , LOOK WHAT WE ARE EATING , LOOK AT ALL THE FAT ASS PEOPLE OUT THERE , LOOK AT THE ENERGY DEPENDANTS YOU RELY ON , YOU CHILDREN AND THERE CHILDREN WILL BE LUCKY TO SURVIVE BY 2100 , WAIT AND SEE WAIT AND SEE , WAIT YOULL BE DEAD lol!!!!!!

  • Belle13A

    There is nothing on the postmark to indicate it is for “Earth Day 2013″

    but a spokes person for USPS says that this is the postmark for Earth Day.

    The spokes person includes a link for a closer look called wind-works.org ?

    Who is wind-works.org ?

    Lynch,
    Jennifer M – Washington, DC

    Jennifer.M.Lynch@usps.gov

    Hi!

    Mail
    processing sites nationwide began using the “Earth Day 2013” cancellation mark
    on April 5, to promote Earth Day. Its last day of use will be April
    30.

    A
    slightly clearer image of the mark is online at http://www.wind-works.org/cms/index.php?id=537.

    I
    hope this is helpful.

    -Jenny
    Lynch

    Historian
    and Corporate Information Services Manager

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nadia-Nichols/1579626286 Nadia Nichols

    Thank you, Tom Steward. I can’t wait to find out the answer to this one! I’ve lived off grid for over 28 years but when I saw those wind turbines on my cancelled mail, I blew a gasket. Unless they start painting those turbines green, they can’t call them green. There’s nothing green or environmentally friendly about industrial wind. The only green associated with them is the tax payer’s money that’s going into the wind developers’ pockets. I only hope this precious planet can survive human stupidity and greed long enough for small thorium reactors to take their rightful place as a truly green and renewable energy source.

  • rob pforzheimer

    The National Weather Service (NOAA) website was showing blowing leaves to depict windy days, now they are picturing wind turbines.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Harbert/100001406372795 David Harbert

    My Gad, will conservatives never stop fighting against everything that is in the public interest? Alternative energy is one of the goals of earth day, and the majority of American people. Wind energy is one option.

    I have no doubt that corporations will carry on with whatever they can do to make more money, that is the reason for state and federal REGULATION! That is the reason for public input hearings!

    Don’t blame all government for the actions of corporations. Let your voice be heard! After all, government is supposed to be the people.

  • alnmary

    Belle 13A – Id like to know specifically who lied and said there were no bald eagles to get a New Era project site permit and precisely how they lied in the process as I wish to follow up on this. Please email me at speedway2742@gmail.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.barton.9 Mary Kay Barton

    You say you’re “Wondering why the post office was advertising windmills?” It’s easy — It’s called CRONYISM! Corporate-Government CRONYISM is the only reason “The Wind Farm Scam” (available at Amazon.com) even exists. Big Wind Corporate Cronies in high places are enriching themselves off the backs of ratepayers & taxpayers — and it’s slimy dirtbags on both sides of the aisle — Senator Chuck Grassley is one of the worst!

    Haven’t you also noticed the Jeep advertisements? They show a Jeep driving down the road with wind turbines in the background — Of course, they never show the reality of what’s going on siting industrial wind factories throughout much more populated areas. We were thinking about buying a Jeep until we saw that ad. I would NEVER buy a Jeep now!

    Wherever the government has their slimy fingers involved, they use OUR MONEY to produce more brainwashing propaganda to enable them to continue their giant thieving, taxpayer FRAUD!!! VOTE THE BUMS OUT!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.barton.9 Mary Kay Barton

    Mr. Harbert – You are clearly energy-illiterate. Thank God for consumer
    advocates like Marie McNamara and Kristi Rosenquist! We, too, live in a rural-residential
    area in Western New York State that has been under siege by Big Wind
    LLCs.

    Mr. Harbert, you need to get educated about the wind fraud. The only thing “green” about wind is the “money” Big Corporate is
    harvesting from taxpayers & ratepayers pockets. Industrial wind was
    initiated in the U.S. by ENRON – it’s purpose as a VERY lucrative
    tax-shelter generator. Nothing has changed
    about that. The same big, bad corporations that own oil, gas, and
    nuclear are the same guys who own wind – ie: GE, BP, Iberdrola, AES,
    NextEra, E.On, FPL, etc.

    You may think industrial wind turbines
    are “beautiful”, but I’m betting you wouldn’t buy and live in a home
    within the sprawling footprint of an industrial wind installation, with
    these giant bird-chopping, infrasound-emitting machines only hundreds of
    feet from the foundations of your home on all sides. These peoples’
    homes have been rendered virtually worthless. See: http://windtoons.com/images/n-34-Best-Offer.gif

    And if you really
    do care about the environment, there is absolutely NO WAY – once you
    understand the realities of industrial wind – that you will still
    support the wind scam. The Habitat Fragmentation associated with the
    miles & miles of access roads and 45-story towers is awful! The
    birds & bats needlessly slaughtered is massive! See this recent
    article from the national energy blog Master Resource: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/03/wind-avian-mortality-ii/ , and the site: http://www.SaveTheEaglesInternational.org.

    Industrial Wind Power is NOT
    economically, environmentally or scientifically sound energy policy –
    period. A good introduction as to why that is, are the papers:

    “Wind
    Power – How We Got Here,” by Physicist John Droz – available at: http://WindPowerFacts.Info/, and –

    “The High Cost and Low Value of Wind Energy,” by Energy Expert, Glenn Schleede, available at:
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/High_Cost_and_Low_Value_of_Electricity_from_Wind.pdf.

    WIND DOES NOT PROVIDE RELIABLE, DISPATCHABLE, BASELOAD POWER, and
    therefore, provides virtually NO CAPACITY VALUE – specified amounts of
    power on demand (aka: Effective, or Firm Capacity). See: http://www.masterresource.org/2010/09/wind-not-power-iii/

    This is why wind is inextricably tied with fossil fuel back-up, and is
    exactly what the recent report, “The Hidden Costs of Wind Power”, is
    based upon. See:

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2013/01/04/the-hidden-costs-of-wind-power/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/12/21/why-its-the-end-of-the-line-for-wind-power/

    You simply can NOT replace our reliable dispatchable, baseload power
    sources that provide well over a 90% Capacity Value, with “Unreliables”,
    like wind, that have virtually NO Capacity Value at all. We may as well
    try and replace 25% of our naval fleet with sailboats.

    If you want to do some research so that you better understand energy issues, these books would be a good place to start:

    The Wind Farm Scam
    (http://tinyurl.com/cq2g3qa) by Dr. John R. Etherington

    Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future
    by Robert Bryce

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Harbert/100001406372795 David Harbert

    I think at least a few of your “facts” are false. Scientists started researching wind power many years before Enron was created.
    The “rapeing” of the taxpayers also occured in the development of the petrolium industry, the electric utilities, the airline industry, and many others. It is called investment in the future. Governments usually lead the way in developing technologies. You can probably find examples dating back to 1776!

  • sandcanyongal

    I received this piece of mail. I live in the Tehachapi Pass, 3/4 surrounded by those freaking wind turbines and sure appreciate this article and the attempt to find out who is plastering this propaganda in the faces of consumers.

    If any of you haven’t seen this factual article about Rural America in the Crosshairs, you’re encouraged to read it. Scroll down to find it in the below facebook site. By the way this is what is happening in Central and Southern California – Thank you TCRED for your persistence in covering the news.
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tehachapi-Communities-for-Responsible-Energy-Development/210632038973095

    Industrial wind and solar plants will go down in American history as the scam of the 21st century.

  • sandcanyongal

    5/22/13 I received a piece of mail from Olympia, WA with 4 windmills and a sun. “The Postal Service is in the process of closing dozens of historic post offices, selling the buildings, and moving retail services to smaller spaces.” Washington Post

    677 post offices are targeted for closures and it’s hard to believe budget money would go to a stamp processing system integrated into their current system across our nation. Just is not happening! So the question is exactly where did the money come from to pay for this? Does anyone have a clue? Also does anyone knos anything about their printing systems? Is the function centralized where the IT group programs this into an application?

  • sandcanyongal

    The FWS approved incidental takes of California condors recently so a developer has the permit to harass, maim and take California condors. The other developer is Terra-Gen. Who would believe that a wind developer and 1% developer would be responsible for the willful deaths of one of our country’s most coveted natural, living treasures? Daniel M. Ashe is the piece of crap director who approved the permit. It appears the Audubon Society is fighting it so perhaps we should support them on this.

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