Camp Perry Turbine Would Have Set Dangerous Precedent
(Washington, D.C., June 29, 2017) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) have won their campaign to stop a planned wind turbine in a major bird migration corridor close to the shores of Lake Erie. In response to a lawsuit by ABC and BSBO, the Ohio Air National Guard (ANG) has announced that it has not approved or authorized plans to install a large turbine at its Camp Perry facility in Ottawa County, Ohio, and that it has no plans to do so. As a result, ABC and BSBO filed a motion today in U.S. District Court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Kirtland's Warbler is one of many species at risk from wind energy development in the Great Lakes region. Photo by Laura Erickson
The Camp Perry site would have been the first wind energy development on public land in this ecologically sensitive area. “ABC is delighted that the Ohio Air National Guard has finally decided not to develop a large wind turbine at Camp Perry in one of the world's largest concentrations of migratory birds and bats,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, Director of ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “This reaffirms the Department of Defense's record on wildlife conservation, and sends a message to other wind energy developers who have their eyes on the Great Lakes.”
Today's resolution of the lawsuit represents the successful outcome of a long battle to protect the area's birds and bats. In October 2016, ABC and BSBO announced their intention to sue the ANG over violations of the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws in the course of planning the Camp Perry turbine. ABC and BSBO also threatened to sue the ANG over the proposed turbine in 2014. The two groups stand ready to take legal action again if the ANG were ever to decide to move forward with the project in the future.
Located less than a mile from Lake Erie, the Camp Perry turbine would have presented an extremely high risk to migrating songbirds, including the federally Endangered Kirtland's Warbler. Other birds likely to be harmed by such projects include migrating songbirds, Bald Eagles, and other raptors, and waterfowl.
“We are relieved that after a five-year battle to convince them to do so, the ANG made the decision to protect the integrity of this Globally Important Bird Area by halting construction of the Camp Perry wind turbine project,” said Kimberly Kaufman, Executive Director of BSBO. “It is our hope that this decision will send a strong message to others looking to develop wind energy in this area. I'd also like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who supported BSBO and ABC in this effort.”
The victory sets an especially important precedent because many other wind energy projects are currently being planned around the Great Lakes, which could threaten the future of millions of migratory birds and bats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has recommended that no turbines be built within 3 miles of the Great Lakes shoreline. Based on FWS's advanced radar studies showing vast numbers of birds and bats migrating through this area and flying within the rotor-swept area of wind turbines, ABC recently sent a letter to FWS suggesting that this setback be expanded to at least five miles.
“Camp Perry is a cautionary tale about how location does matter,” Hutchins said. “Rules must be followed, and similar projects should not threaten federally protected bird and bat species.”
ABC and BSBO were represented in the lawsuit by the Washington, D.C. based public-interest law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks and William Sheehan, ABC's General Counsel.
American Bird Conservancy's work on this program is supported by the Leon Levy Foundation.