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With a Meeting, Trump Renewed a British Wind Farm Fight

As reported by the New York Times, President-Elect Donald J. Trump is engaging in personal business matters that violate ethical standards as incipient "Leader of the Free World," the highest office in the U.S. And Exhibit A is Trump's advocacy, during a meeting with U.K. Brexit leaders, against an off-shore wind turbine farm on the Scottish coast that Trump holds would mar the view at the golf course he owns.

The article also mentions a meeting between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe. That meeting also has raised eyebrows, given Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump's, attendance, despite her lacking security clearance.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe has a strongly pro-nuclear agenda, striving to overcome popular resistance in Japan in order to re-activate dozens of atomic reactors shut down after the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began on 3/11/11. But Abe is also pushing the sales of Japanese reactor designs overseas. This includes Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000s -- four of which are currently under construction in Georgia and South Carolina -- as well as Hitachi-General Electric ESBWRs, as targeted at Fermi 3, MI and North Anna 3, VA.

But aside from the ethical violations of a president-elect leveraging his office to advance his own business interests -- at the expense of the public good -- there is that question of wind turbines marring the view. Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), addressed this very issue during a late October 2008 (on the eve of Barack Obama's election) Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy book tour in Michigan. As began a Beyond Nuclear op-ed published in the Muskegon Chronicle at the time:

One of the objections raised against wind turbines is the impact they have on the view. But Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, who spoke last month in Kalamazoo, put it well. He said we have four choices when it comes to our energy future. We can either: do without electricity; experience catastrophic climate change, if we continue to burn fossil fuels unabated; risk radioactive disasters and nuclear weapons proliferation if we expand nuclear power; or, deal with the view.

Of course, Trump's unethical behavior -- including most especially his adamant climate change denial -- also begs the question: would Trump prefer to see catastrophic sea level rise at his coastal properties, or off-shore wind turbines?

As reported by the New York Times:

When President-elect Donald J. Trump met with the British politician Nigel Farage in recent days, he encouraged Mr. Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses, according to one person present.

The meeting, held shortly after the presidential election, raises new questions about Mr. Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency to advance his business interests. Mr. Trump has long opposed a wind farm planned near his course in Aberdeenshire, and he previously fought unsuccessfully all the way to Britain’s highest court to block it.

The group that met with Mr. Trump in New York was led by Mr. Farage, the head of the U.K. Independence Party and a member of the European Parliament. Mr. Farage, who was a leading voice advocating Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, campaigned with Mr. Trump during the election. Arron Banks, an insurance executive who was a major financier of the Brexit campaign, was also in attendance.

“He did not say he hated wind farms as a concept; he just did not like them spoiling the views,” said Andy Wigmore, the media consultant who was present at the meeting and was photographed with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Wigmore headed communications for Leave.EU, one of the two groups that led the Brexit effort. He said in an email that he and Mr. Banks would be “campaigning against wind farms in England, Scotland and Wales.”

Mr. Wigmore said that Mr. Banks had previously opposed wind farms and that they had been studying the issue on their own. However, he said, Mr. Trump "did suggest that we should campaign on it” and “spurred us in and we will be going for it.”

His account of the meeting was previously reported in The Express, a British paper.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump’s transition office, at first disputed that Mr. Trump had raised the subject of wind farms with Mr. Farage, suggesting that participants in the conversation “denied this took place.” However, when pressed with the fact that one of the meeting’s attendees, Mr. Wigmore, had described the conversation in detail, she declined repeated requests to comment...

Norman Eisen — who served as the “ethics czar” in the Obama White House, appointed by the president to oversee rules related to conflicts of interest and lobbying — said that these kinds of allegations, even if they are just rumors, demonstrate why Mr. Trump must completely separate himself from involvement in his business enterprises.

Mr. Eisen said that it was “an extraordinary transgression of the core idea of public service” for Mr. Trump to speak with prominent Britons and a member of the European Parliament about his frustration with wind farms that harm views — at the same time as he has been involved in a fight over this exact issue.

Mr. Trump’s actions are undermining public confidence in the office of the president, he said, adding, “I am profoundly troubled by it.”

In Scotland, Mr. Trump has a golf course on the west coast, Trump Turnberry, which he bought in 2014 and which has hosted four British Opens, and one on the east coast, Trump International Golf Links, that he built near Balmedie, a village in Aberdeenshire. Both resorts have struggled financially.

The Aberdeenshire course has been controversial since the Scottish government approved its development in 2008, turning aside environmental concerns about the destruction of coastal sand dunes. A local pressure group called Tripping Up Trump is among the opponents of the resort.

Mr. Trump’s fight against an offshore wind farm, consisting of 11 turbines, off the Aberdeenshire coast ended last December when Britain’s highest court unanimously rejected his attempt to block it. Mr. Trump had vowed to halt development on the golf course project if the wind farm went forward.

The skirmishing between Scottish officials and the Trump Organization became bitter. After the ruling, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s former first minister, called Trump a “three-time loser” — referring to his losses in various levels of the court system — while Mr. Trump called Mr. Salmond “a has-been and totally irrelevant,” according to the BBC.

Scotland, one of four regions of the United Kingdom, is led by Nicola Sturgeon, the current first minister. “Scotland has vast potential to generate the power we need from renewable sources, in a way that helps the global fight against climate change,” her office said in a statement, adding: “We have clear planning policies in place to ensure wind farms are developed in appropriate locations.”