Charleston, WV—Twenty citizen groups from around the country are supporting a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary, Gale Norton, by the Friends of Blackwater. The lawsuit charges that Norton has refused to turn over documents relating to wildlife deaths and injuries from wind turbines. “Department of Interior has not justified withholding these important documents,” said Judy Rodd, Executive Director of Friends of Blackwater.
Rodd said, “ We deeply appreciate the support we are receiving from citizen groups around the country. There is growing national concern about the adverse environmental impacts of wind power, and once we get this information out on the table, it will help everyone understand the pros and cons of wind power when it comes to the environment. We are filing this suit now because our patience has run out. We have been waiting for answers from the Department of Interior for over a year. If these giant wind turbines are killing thousands of migratory birds and other wildlife the public has a right to know.
Thousands of taxpayer subsidized wind turbines –some up to 400 feet high-- are being planned for the high ridges of the scenic Potomac Highlands, as well as mountainous and coastal areas in other states.
“These projects are a serious threat to migratory birds in the U.S. and there is no meaningful federal review process to examine their impacts on wildlife,” said Rodd. “The Mountaineer project in West Virginia has been the site of the greatest migratory bird and bat kills east of the Mississippi River. If this is any indication of the problems associated with wind power, then Department of Interior needs to step forward and enforce our federal environmental laws.”
A copy of the letter and twenty organizations follows:
Dear Secretary Norton:
The undersigned organizations are writing with regard to Friends of Blackwater v. Department of the Interior, a lawsuit filed today in federal district court against the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit challenges the agency’s withholding of documents requested by Friends of Blackwater concerning wildlife injuries and deaths caused by industrial wind power facilities, and the USFW's practices and policies regarding enforcement of environmental laws against wind power facilities.
As you are aware, the wind power industry is undergoing a rapid expansion throughout the country. Although wind power has the capacity to be a clean source of energy, wind power projects that are not properly sited or evaluated before they are constructed pose serious risks to our nation’s treasured wildlife. We believe the public has a right to information concerning these impacts, and a right to know what the Fish and Wildlife Service’s policies are with regard to enforcing important environmental laws against the wind power industry. Accordingly, we urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, and release the records requested by Friends of Blackwater.
Citizens for Responsible Windpower (WV)
Friends of the Allegheny Front (WV)
Stewards of the Potomac Highlands (WV)
Potomac Valley Audubon Society (WV)
Friends of Appalachian Highlands (PA)
Friends of Backbone Mountain (MD)
Maryland Alliance for Greenway Improvements (MD)
Friends of Highland County (VA)
Kingdom Commons Group (VT)
Friends of the Smokey Hills (KS)
Protect Flint Hills (KS)
Tallgrass Ranchers (KS)
Friends of the Western Mountains (ME)
Chautauqua County Citizens for Responsible Windpower
Sardinia Preservation Group (NY)
Advocates for Cherry Valley (NY)
Advocates for Prattsburg (NY)
North Country Coalition Against Windfarms (NY)
Green Berkshires, Inc. (MA)
PROACT International (GER)