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Wind-energy commentaries off-balance

This sounds good, but he falls far short of meeting this standard when he assigns the NIMBY label to those who are raising questions about environmental harm. Apparently he feels there is no need to deal with specific issues when a sweeping ad hominem dismissal will suffice.

The Roanoke Times recently published several commentaries promoting wind energy development on Virginia mountain ridges. Two were written by Jon Miles and Mitch King, principal partners of the Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative, an organization that claims to promote "balanced" wind energy development in Virginia. Several of the VWEC partners receive state and federal funding to support their work in furtherance of the VWEC mission.

Miles, a professor at James Madison University, is director of the VWEC. In his June 29 commentary, he called for a "balanced brokering of truthful and informative analysis and opinions that examine all sides of all the issues." This sounds good, but he falls far short of meeting this standard when he assigns the NIMBY label to those who are raising questions about environmental harm. Apparently he feels there is no need to deal with specific issues when a sweeping ad hominem dismissal will suffice.

Miles' only specific statement concerning harm caused by wind turbines is the often repeated claim that impacts to bats and birds caused by wind turbines are minimal compared to other man-made structures such as smokestacks and cell towers. This is simply wrong.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Roanoke Times recently published several commentaries promoting wind energy development on Virginia mountain ridges. Two were written by Jon Miles and Mitch King, principal partners of the Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative, an organization that claims to promote "balanced" wind energy development in Virginia. Several of the VWEC partners receive state and federal funding to support their work in furtherance of the VWEC mission.

Miles, a professor at James Madison University, is director of the VWEC. In his June 29 commentary, he called for a "balanced brokering of truthful and informative analysis and opinions that examine all sides of all the issues." This sounds good, but he falls far short of meeting this standard when he assigns the NIMBY label to those who are raising questions about environmental harm. Apparently he feels there is no need to deal with specific issues when a sweeping ad hominem dismissal will suffice.

Miles' only specific statement concerning harm caused by wind turbines is the often repeated claim that impacts to bats and birds caused by wind turbines are minimal compared to other man-made structures such as smokestacks and cell towers. This is simply wrong. During its first year of operation in 2003, a 44-turbine project in West Virginia was the scene of record-setting bird and bat kills due to collisions with turbine blades. It was estimated that as many as 4,000 bats were killed at this facility in just one season. A large number of bats were also killed in 2004.

Dr. Merlin Tuttle, director of Bat Conservation International, has estimated that if all the turbines proposed within just a 70-mile radius of the West Virginia project are built, about 58,000 bats per year will be killed - with potentially devastating cumulative threats to bats and ecosystems that Page 1 of 2 Printer Friendly Version 7/8/2005 http://www.roanoke.com/printer/printpage.aspx?arcID=26970 rely on them (see http://vawind.org/Assets/Docs/BCI_ridgetop_advisory.pdf).

Although Florida Power and Light, the current owner of all Appalachian wind projects, initially cooperated in research to address the bird-and-bat-kill problem, it now has cut off access to its sites for further mortality studies. This doesn't speak well for an industry that has a "green" image to promote. It also doesn't speak well for the VWEC partners and the other ardent wind energy devotees who continue to trivialize the associated environmental costs.

Besides being wrong when they assert that wind turbines' impacts on bats and birds are minimal compared to smokestacks and cell towers, Miles and the other proponents of wind energy would have us ignore crucial facts: The current crusade for development of wind energy could result in the placement of thousands of wind turbines, up to 550 feet tall, at eight per mile along our currently forested ridges. Even greater densities of turbines could be located along our coast. Cell towers and smokestacks are not and never will be so dense and never so concentrated in bat and bird flyways.

Miles suggested that wind development should proceed in a cautious manner in a context of informed analysis. Again, this sounds good, but Miles ignores the fact that there is no objective environmental review process in place for private wind development projects, and that last year VWEC partners, represented by Mitch King, opposed General Assembly efforts that would have simply called for examination of the adequacy of current review processes. These VWEC partners also are lobbying for approval of the proposed Highland County wind project even though there has been no environmental review and endangered species are known to inhabit the site.

Despite the VWEC claim of promoting "balanced" wind development, VWEC is simply advocating wind development, spinning information accordingly, at taxpayer expense. True balance, which we support, would be an open and thorough process, enabling us to benefit from the good that wind energy can provide while not causing unnecessary and irreparable harm to the very environment wind energy is intended to protect.

Belinsky is a staff attorney with WildLaw's Virginia Office in Copper Hill.


Source: http://www.vawind.org/Asset...

JUL 8 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/240-wind-energy-commentaries-off-balance
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