At a meeting with energy executives on Wednesday, President Joe Biden made what might seem like a bit of an odd comment.
“Are you getting less resistance when you start talking about wind and the windmills?” Biden asked. “I know they cause cancer. [Laughter.] Bad joke. I shouldn’t kid about that. I shouldn’t have kidded.”
What, exactly, was Biden talking about? Well, he seemed to be referencing former President Donald Trump’s obsession with windmills – and his predecessor’s false claims that they are shown to cause cancer.
The history of Trump’s animosity toward windmills is long – and deeply personal.
Back in the mid-2000s, Trump bought land in Aberdeen, Scotland, on which he planned to build a luxury golf course and resort. Shortly thereafter, he became aware of – and opposed – a plan to build 11 wind turbines off the Scottish coast.
“I am not thrilled,” Trump said in 2006, according to the BBC. “I want to see the ocean, I do not want to see windmills.”
And he didn’t stop there. Not by a long shot.
“This is a very, very serious problem that we are addressing. In my opinion, it is one of the most serious problems that Scotland will have or has had,” Trump told the Scottish Parliament in 2012 as he sought to keep the wind farm from being built.
Trump added: “I am an expert on tourism. If you dot your landscape with these horrible, horrible structures, you will do tremendous damage. … Many countries have decided they don’t want wind, because it doesn’t work without massive subsidies, it kills massive amounts of birds and wildlife, and there are lots of other reasons.”
In 2013, Trump tweeted about high winds damaging a turbine in Scotland and added this important message: “Any turbine in close proximity to a school must go!” That same year, Trump had this message for the Scots: “Economics behind ugly, bird killing wind turbines do not work – will destroy Scotland’s beautiful coastline.”
Despite Trump’s dire warnings, the wind turbines were built anyway. The UK Supreme Court ruled against his lawsuit to block the construction in 2015. The 11-turbine facility was completed in 2018. Trump was ordered to pay the Scottish government’s legal bills for the wind turbine fight in 2019.
Getting elected president did nothing to change Trump’s vendetta against windmills. If anything, he became even more outspoken.
“If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75% in value,” Trump told House Republicans when he spoke at a fundraiser in April 2019. “And they say the noise causes cancer.” (Fact Check: Not true!)
And on the 2020 campaign trail, Trump worked windmills into his regular riff.
“If Hillary (Clinton) got in … you’d be doing wind. Windmills,” he said at a campaign rally in Michigan in the spring of 2019. “And if it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night. ‘Darling, I want to watch television. I’m sorry! The wind isn’t blowing.’ … I know a lot about wind.”
And then there was this from an August 2019 rally in Pittsburgh:
“Unlike those big windmills that destroy everybody’s property values, kill all the birds,” Trump said. “One day, the environmentalists are going to tell us what’s going on with that. And then all of a sudden, it stops. The wind and the televisions go off. And your wives and husbands say: ‘Darling, I want to watch Donald Trump on television tonight. But the wind stopped blowing and I can’t watch. There’s no electricity in the house, darling.’”
And this from December 2019 speech in Florida:
“I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much,” Trump said. “They’re noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? Go under a windmill someday. You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.”
Donald Trump has been consistent about very few things in his life – and political career. But he’s always hated windmills.