Trump's unfortunate belief that he's an expert on wind power

Trump expects people to believe he's studied wind power "better than anybody." If only that were true.
National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) Aerials
National Wind Technology CenterDennis Schroeder / NREL

It was just last year when Donald Trump told congressional Republicans that unidentified people believe the noise generated by wind turbines "causes cancer." The president people should trust his judgment on the issue because, as he put it, "I know a lot about wind. I know a lot about wind."

He does not know a lot about wind.

In last night's debate, Joe Biden reminded the public of the remarks, noting in reference to his opponent, "He thinks wind causes cancer, windmills." I more or less assumed the president would deny it, or perhaps pretend he was joking when he made the televised comments. Instead, Trump went in a different direction:

"I know more about wind than you do. It is extremely expensive, kills all the birds, it's very intermittent, got a lot of problems, and they happen to make the windmills in both Germany and China."

Part of the problem is that the Republican has his facts wrong. A New York Times fact-check piece noted that Trump's claims about birds and foreign manufacturing simply don't stand up well to scrutiny.

Another part of the problem is the motivation behind the rhetoric: Trump's opposition to wind power appears to have a lot to do with his Scottish golf resort, not his interest in ornithology or energy policy.

But as important as these details are, what I continue to find truly amazing is Trump's apparent belief that he's a genuine, well-read expert on the subject. As we discussed a while back, the president delivered remarks to a group of far-right students last year and declared, "You know, I know windmills very much. I've studied it better than anybody."

If only that were true. Trump has insisted, for example, that homeowners who use wind power can't watch television when the skies are calm. This isn't how energy policy works, but the president has nevertheless convinced himself of his own expertise.

The Republican has also ranted about the "fumes" from turbine manufacturing, but these complaints have also never made sense.

And yet, there the president was last night, presenting himself as some kind of specialist after Biden reminded voters of one of Trump's most ridiculous comments on energy policy.