Donald Trump's Anti-Wind, Pro-Golf Nonsense Is Not Going Over Well

Philip Bump
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Donald Trump's Anti-Wind, Pro-Golf Nonsense Is Not Going Over Well

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Donald Trump can make all the outrageous claims about wind energy that he wants to on Twitter. In the pages of newspapers in Scotland, however, there are limits. On Tuesday, authorities there decided he exceeded them, and ordered he remove anti-wind ads he'd paid for. The problem, as always with Donald Trump, was hyperbole.

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For months, Trump has been battling to keep an offshore wind farm from being built near a golf course he's developing on the northeast coast of the country. The proposal is part of a much-larger push by the country to transition to renewable energy. Its 11 turbines would offer more than 80 megawatts of energy, once operational.

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Trump's fight against the project is not going very well, in part because his campaign is predicated on presenting wind energy as a horrible, economy-killing, bird-killing nuisance. This is a hard argument to make, but he's trying, mostly on Twitter. Vice's Motherboard blog has cataloged a number of them.

Don't let them build a wind turbine in your backyard (or near your house). It will destroy your property value.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2012

That isn't true.

Wind turbines are not only killing millions of birds, they are killing the finances & environment of many countries & communities.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2012

That also isn't true. (In fact, it's likely that Trump's high-rises kill more birds than the turbines do.)

Ugly wind turbines have destroyed the entrance to Palm Springs, CA. These monstrosities are ruining landscapes (cont)

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2012

That is, at best, subjective.

The anti-wind turbine movement in Scotland against @alexsalmond is amazing--keep going Scots, save your country!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2012

And that last one is just sad. That "anti-wind turbine movement" is what Trump had been spending enormous time and energy trying to foment. In March, it ended up being for naught. The government announced that the project would move forward, thanks in part to the advocacy of politician Alex Salmond. Trump's response to the decision was characteristically reserved. "[W]e will be bringing a lawsuit within the allocated period of time," he said in a statement, "to stop what will definitely be the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself." Definitely.

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In a last ditch bid to derail the project, Trump's company bought ads in the Courier of Dundee and the Press and Journal of Aberdeen. The ad argues that the proposed development would ruin tourism — by showing a photo of that San Gorgonio Pass wind development outside Palm Springs. To Scotland's Advertising Standards Authority, that was unacceptable.

We considered that the image, alongside the claim "Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy", implied that the wind turbines overlooking an American freeway was representative of a proposed wind farm in Scotland. In the absence of evidence to demonstrate that was the case we concluded that it was misleading.

That resulted in the agency telling the company "not to make claims unless they could be substantiated with robust evidence and not to use misleadingly imagery" in future ads.

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(Interestingly, the agency didn't find a problem with the other part of the ad, in which Alex Salmond is criticized for having "backed the release of terrorist al-Megrahi, 'for humane reasons' — after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie." That, they found distasteful but not offensive.)

Regardless of the status of the offshore wind development, the golf course is moving forward. Trump's company overcame a substantial amount of local opposition to the project, a fight that was documented in the film You've Been Trumped. The star of that film, a farmer who fought tooth-and-nail against the project, was named "Top Scot" for 2012, beating other, more famous competitors. The award was part of Glenfiddich Scotch's Spirit of Scotland Awards. So, of course, Trump quickly called for a boycott of Glenfiddich. We understand that whiskey kills birds, too.