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Bird deaths at issue in wind power session

Thousands of birds nest around, or migrate through, the Lake Erie shoreline near Buffalo. Just how many of them would be killed by spinning windmill blades was the dominant concern at a meeting Thursday night on the area's potential to generate wind energy.

Nearly 60 people jammed a conference room in Buffalo City Hall for a discussion on wind power conducted by the Wind Action Group, which is exploring the local viability of wind power. Most in attendance were members of the area's environmental community, and almost all who spoke said they generally support wind power, especially if it's used to replace energy now generated at coal-fired power plants that pollute the air.

But a number of speakers said they were leery about putting windmills along the Lake Erie shoreline, which serves a population of local and migratory waterfowl and raptors.

Several of those were members of the Buffalo Ornithological Society, including Jim Landau.

"I believe that the largest ring-billed gull colony in the eastern Great Lakes is [based] near the spoils piles of the former Bethlehem Steel site," he said. "There is also a breeding colony of common terns on the outer breakwall of the Buffalo Harbor."

Those were two of the areas studied in the Erie County Shoreline Wind Study, which measured five sites in Lackawanna, Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda for their potential to generate wind energy. The year-long study concluded that the shoreline was a good wind resource.

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Nearly 60 people jammed a conference room in Buffalo City Hall for a discussion on wind power conducted by the Wind Action Group, which is exploring the local viability of wind power. Most in attendance were members of the area's environmental community, and almost all who spoke said they generally support wind power, especially if it's used to replace energy now generated at coal-fired power plants that pollute the air.

But a number of speakers said they were leery about putting windmills along the Lake Erie shoreline, which serves a population of local and migratory waterfowl and raptors.

Several of those were members of the Buffalo Ornithological Society, including Jim Landau.

"I believe that the largest ring-billed gull colony in the eastern Great Lakes is [based] near the spoils piles of the former Bethlehem Steel site," he said. "There is also a breeding colony of common terns on the outer breakwall of the Buffalo Harbor."

Those were two of the areas studied in the Erie County Shoreline Wind Study, which measured five sites in Lackawanna, Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda for their potential to generate wind energy. The year-long study concluded that the shoreline was a good wind resource.

The possibility of large-scale bird mortality has already been an issue for one proposed wind farm along the lake, the stalled Chautauqua Wind Project in the Westfield-Ripley area.

The shoreline near Buffalo is "a globally significant birding area," said Jay Burney, director of the Learning Sustainability Campaign, who also criticized the City of Lackawanna for approving the Steel Winds wind farm planned for the former Bethlehem Steel site.

But Lackawanna Mayor Norman L. Polanski Jr. said he believes the potential for mass bird killings at the site are slim. "Are we talking about the wholesale slaughter of birds? No," he said. "You're talking three or four birds a year, from all I've heard."

The wide divergence of opinion on the matter of bird kills helped make the point several other speakers raised: There is a need for more and better information before any decision is made.

Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/...

JAN 27 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1104-bird-deaths-at-issue-in-wind-power-session
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