Article

Will N.J. offshore wind project threaten bird's migration?

The red knot is an endangered bird that stops in the Delaware Day — where a wind farm may soon be — to eat horseshoe crab eggs during its trip from the Canadian Arctic to Argentina. Chuck Homler/Focus On Wildlife/Wikimedia Commons

The red knot is an endangered bird that stops in the Delaware Day — where a wind farm may soon be — to eat horseshoe crab eggs during its trip from the Canadian Arctic to Argentina. Chuck Homler/Focus On Wildlife/Wikimedia Commons

An endangered shorebird travels between the Canadian Arctic and Argentina every year, stopping over in the Delaware Bay to eat horseshoe crab eggs.

But an offshore wind company is investigating whether its plans to raise turbines off the Atlantic City coast could put that bird's yearly travels in peril.

Atlantic Shores, a joint venture of Shell New Energies U.S. and EDF Renewables, launched a study this week to track the pigeon-sized red knot using satellite pings to better determine its migratory patterns.

Developers want to know whether the bird crosses its offshore wind lease area, which is 10 to 20 miles from the New Jersey coast.

If so, Atlantic Shores would implement mitigation measures to protect the bird if it secures a power contract and builds one of the country's first offshore wind farms.

"Proactive studies like these allow us to produce renewable energy based on cutting-edge, real-time environmental data," Jennifer Daniels, development director at Atlantic... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The red knot is an endangered bird that stops in the Delaware Day — where a wind farm may soon be — to eat horseshoe crab eggs during its trip from the Canadian Arctic to Argentina. Chuck Homler/Focus On Wildlife/Wikimedia Commons

An endangered shorebird travels between the Canadian Arctic and Argentina every year, stopping over in the Delaware Bay to eat horseshoe crab eggs.

But an offshore wind company is investigating whether its plans to raise turbines off the Atlantic City coast could put that bird's yearly travels in peril.

Atlantic Shores, a joint venture of Shell New Energies U.S. and EDF Renewables, launched a study this week to track the pigeon-sized red knot using satellite pings to better determine its migratory patterns.

Developers want to know whether the bird crosses its offshore wind lease area, which is 10 to 20 miles from the New Jersey coast.

If so, Atlantic Shores would implement mitigation measures to protect the bird if it secures a power contract and builds one of the country's first offshore wind farms.

"Proactive studies like these allow us to produce renewable energy based on cutting-edge, real-time environmental data," Jennifer Daniels, development director at Atlantic Shores, said in a statement this week.

"The red knots study is one of the many ways we intend to use data and insights from the scientific community to responsibly develop our Lease Area," she said.

Offshore wind is a nascent industry in the U.S. but one that could rapidly grow over the coming decade, experts say, as state climate policy targets guaranteed subsidies and as falling development costs encourage investment.

The red knot is a stocky bird, with a reddish chest and speckled back. It's related to the familiar narrow-beaked sandpipers and godwits that run along the surf on spindly legs.

The rufa subspecies of the knot was listed as endangered in 2015 following historic declines. Though some knots live in Jersey year-round, most stop there on their migration route, once in the spring months and again in the fall, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

FWS notes climate change, sea-level rise, coastal development and boats as the knot's primary threats.

'Kills all the birds'

Wind power's impact on avian species, from eagles to bats, has been a common concern related to onshore wind farms, as that sector leapt from producing less than 1% of utility-scale electricity in 2006 to more than 7% last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

At times bird mortality from wind has hit the news because companies were cited with penalties for killing protected species.

Duke Energy Corp. paid $1 million in fines for killing birds in Wyoming at two wind farms between 2009 and 2013, in the first such criminal enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Bird deaths also become public when wind companies seek permission from the Fish and Wildlife Service to kill a certain number of animals without penalty. Mitigation measures, like retrofitting power lines, can reduce but not eliminate deaths.

A New York federal judge this week struck down the Trump administration's attempt to pare back MBTA penalties on energy companies for the incidental bird killings (Greenwire, Aug. 12).
Energy's impact on birds is an oft-politicized fight between fossil fuel loyalists and renewable power advocates.

President Trump has often voiced criticism of wind power, as when he told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an interview earlier this week that though wind is "nice," it "kills all the birds."

Offshore impacts uncertain

FWS estimates that between 140,000 and roughly 330,000 birds die from collisions with onshore wind turbines in the U.S. annually, as of 2017.

That mortality rate is dwarfed by primary killers including cats, cars, power lines, buildings or pits used to dispose of oil field wastewater. Those pits kill up to 1 million birds per year, according to FWS.

Offshore wind's bird impact remains unstudied in the U.S., where there are not yet any active wind farms and proposed wind facilities can be many miles from shore.

In its supplemental environmental analysis for what may be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., Vineyard Wind, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management labeled cumulative impacts to birds from offshore wind development as moderate across all development scenarios.

Atlantic Shores is working with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the firm Normandeau Associates for the knot study.


Source: https://www.eenews.net/gree...

AUG 14 2020
http://www.windaction.org/posts/51582-will-n-j-offshore-wind-project-threaten-bird-s-migration
back to top