NEW HAMPSHIRE (June 1, 2007). Industrial Wind Action (IWA) Group responded today to the aggressive campaign by the wind industry aimed at eviscerating portions of the Energy bill (HR 2337) now before the House Committee on Natural Resources. Title II, Subtitle D of the bill seeks to establish standards for wind energy development that will provide protections for wildlife resources.
"Frankly, we're surprised at the vehemence coming from the industry and some environmental groups over this issue," says Lisa Linowes, Executive Director for IWA, "Subtitle D merely proposes what the wind industry and its proponents already profess to support." The bill provides for the proper siting of wind facilities to "avoid impacts, including cumulative impacts, on birds, bats, and other wildlife to the greatest extent practicable" [section 231, pp.B.2].
The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC) are all on record asserting the need for more site-specific information from scientific experts to properly assess impacts of wind energy projects on wildlife.
"If wind power is to be a piece of our energy puzzle, it should not be at the expense of wildlife and other natural resources," said Linowes. "Given the alarming mortality rates at wind facilities in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, among others, it's time for the industry to accept responsibility for the adverse impacts and support Subtitle D," she added. IWA has long expressed frustration with wind developers and their proponents who have used green power as justification for ignoring the environmental harms caused by industrial wind power plants.
To date, the federal government has played only a limited role in ensuring wind turbines are sited and constructed safely, leaving responsibility to state and local land-use boards that are often inexperienced with wind development. The proposed legislation would enforce NEPA-like review for wind development and bring uniformity to the review process. "I've heard many developers complain that the inconsistent, uneven review from one region to next has left them uncertain as to what's expected of them. Subtitle D presents us with an opportunity to bring clarity to the process," Linowes explains.
Radical assertions by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) that the proposed legislation will collapse the wind market or criminalize wind development are contrary to what many developers are saying privately. According to IWA, the wind industry installed over 2400 MW of wind in the U.S. last year. Based on some estimates, wealthy utilities are reaping $2.75 billion annually in production tax credits, in addition to the millions in public funds paid out for the renewable energy.
"Wind power is no longer a fledgling industry. It's time for the rhetoric to stop," Linowes said, warning that denying the environmental problems caused by turbines could turn public opinion against them. "The AWEA's objections to HR 2337 are either simple self-interested misrepresentations, or worse, indicate the industry is not capable of upholding its claims to be environmentally sound and cannot deliver sustainable value in the foreseeable future," Linowes observed.
Industrial Wind Action Group seeks to promote knowledge and raise awareness of the risks and damaging environmental impacts of industrial wind energy development. Information and analysis on the subject is available through its website, www.windaction.org. To subscribe to the IWA weekly newsletter, visit http://www.windaction.org/subscribe.
 Text of HR 2337 Subtitle D - http://www.windaction.org/documents/9586
 National Environmental Policy Act