It’s impossible to discern what Donald Trump actually believes, if anything at all, but there is one policy position on which he has never wavered: wind turbines.
He fucking hates them, though in true Trump fashion he hasn’t been consistent about why exactly that is.
Since 2012, he’s tweeted about how much he abhors the devices, which convert kinetic energy from wind into electricity, no less than 111 times as of press time. For comparison, in the same timespan, he’s tweeted about Hillary Clinton, who he is campaigning against to be president of the United States, just 129 times.
He believes they are “bird killing” and “ugly” and “ruining the beauty of parts of the country.” He thinks they “hurt tourism” and are “very very sad!” But he also said his position was about something different: political retribution.
“Wind turbines threaten the migration of birds,” he tweeted on April 27, 2012, linking to a CBC News article about environmental activists meeting with the finance minister of Prince Edward Island to discuss the potential threat wind turbines pose to the natural habitat in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“Where’s the outcry?” Trump, who declined a request to be interviewed on this subject, asked.
His hatred of wind turbines has at times seemed to inspire fabulism.
In July 2012, he said that “the Chinese are illegally dumping bird-killing wind turbines on our shores. Only one of many grievances—we should act,” although I could find no evidence that China has illegally, or even legally, installed the devices on any part of America’s coast.
Asked if they’d ever heard of such a thing happening, a spokesperson for The American Wind Energy Association (obviously not a group that’s happy about Trump’s campaign against turbines) said, “We have no idea what he’s talking about with China dumping turbines. He is likely confusing them with solar panels.”
Later in 2012, Trump made another claim, this time that “‘Wing bangers’” is “the name given to wind turbines by bird lovers for the thousands of birds they kill in the U.S.”
Oddly, it’s not possible to find any reference to this nickname anywhere on the ol’ world wide web. When asked by The Daily Beast if they’d ever heard of it, a spokesperson for National Wind Watch, an anti-wind turbine activist group, said, “That’s the first time I’ve seen the term. It’s awfully clunky.” The term activists do use, National Wind Watch said, is “bird Cuisinarts” or “Cuisinarts of the sky,” since the blades of the turbines slice through the birds like so. According to the Smithsonian, “somewhere between 140,000 and 328,000 birds die each year from collisions with wind turbines.”
Whatever you’d like to call them, Trump’s feud with these inanimate objects dates back to 2006, when he was preparing to build a golf course in Balmedie, Scotland. At the same time, the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group and Amec was developing a multimillion-dollar offshore wind farm near the Trump site.
Trump, ever the aesthetic extremist, was unhappy with the proposal. He threatened to pull out of his construction deal if it wasn’t stopped. “I would have no interest in proceeding,” he said at the time. “If they were to ruin Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen with that, then I would walk away. We would sell the site and go elsewhere.”
Scottish officials ceded to The Donald, and the course, whose 18 holes, Trump’s website boasts, “thread their way engagingly through The Great Dunes of Scotland; rising to find panoramic views of the North Sea and dramatic coastline, and plunging into the secluded valleys rich with native vegetation,” eventually opened in July 2012, but not before, amid fights about more wind farm proposals, Trump postponed construction of the space and sent an angry letter to Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond.
“With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history,” Trump wrote. “I have just authorized my staff to allocate a substantial amount of money to launch an international campaign to fight your plan to surround Scotland’s coast with many thousands of wind turbines.”
He added, “Please understand that I am doing this to save Scotland.”
The vast majority of Trump’s statements made in opposition to wind turbines have to do with looks. He thinks they’re an eyesore, an unwelcome obstruction of beautiful views that would draw people to his hotels and golf courses.
Yet there is a lone tweet that suggests Trump doesn’t care about either of those things.
“If Alex Salmond had not stupidly released terrorist al-Megrahi (Pan Am flight 103) to his friends, there would be no Trump wind farm dispute,” Trump said in October 2012.
According to The Scotsman, an adviser of Salmond’s had emailed Trump ahead of the government’s 2009 decision to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who had been sentenced to life in prison in 1988 for his role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270. At the time, al-Megrahi, who is now deceased, suffered from terminal prostate cancer, and Scotland was weighing whether to release him so he could die in Libya, his home country.
Trump’s son, Don Jr., told The Scotsman that Salmond had wanted Trump’s blessing and support, for god knows what reason, but Trump refused to give it. Since that time, Don Jr. said, Salmond was his father’s “total enemy.”
Of course, it would be very unlike Trump to feign outrage about birds being killed for the purpose of getting back at someone he hates.
George Sorial, vice president of the Trump Organization, tried to make the case to The Scotsman that Trump was really the victim of Salmond’s pettiness, and the first minister was only allowing wind farm proposals near Trump’s course to anger him. “I think what he was saying is that Alex Salmond is really behind the EOWDC application,” Sorial said.
Some Scottish conservatives agreed and called for Salmond to apologize to Trump. Meanwhile, Salmond has used the occasion of Trump’s presidential campaign to campaign against him in the press. “Just as he didn’t deliver on his commitments to Scotland,” Salmond told Politico Europe, “in the hopefully fantastical possibility that he might get near the Oval Office, he wouldn’t deliver on his commitments to America either.”