Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from California
Wind turbine blades rip through federally protected golden and bald eagles and other raptors, but rather than fine the industry, the Obama administration quietly expanded their permits. Meanwhile, in Alaska, the Interior Department prohibited a remote fishing village from building a gravel road, saying it would affect eelgrass that serves as a way-stop meal for migratory birds.
The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.
A new study claims that California could power itself entirely with wind, water, solar, and geothermal energy by 2050, ...The catch is that California would need to build miles utility-scale solar power plants and wind turbines covering 3,426 square miles of the state with offshore wind installations covering an additional 1,406 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.
The system produces power by reflecting line from more than 300,000 giant mirrors onto three water towers. The sunlight hitting the towers can create temperatures of up to 1,000F (530C), producing steam which then drives generator turbines. Yet this process also creates an extremely hot “thermal flux” around the tower. ...birds found on the site in November last year were likely killed by “scorching”.
BrightSource wants to build a second tower-based solar farm in California's Riverside County, east of Palm Springs. But the state Energy Commission in December proposed that the company instead use more conventional technologies, such as solar panels or mirrored troughs. One reason: the BrightSource system appears to be scorching birds that fly through the intense heat surrounding the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
A California utility that wants to back out of a northwest Montana wind power project is asking a federal judge to decide if the wind farm’s developers did enough to protect a nearby cluster of golden eagles.
NaturEner, which owns and operates three wind farms in Montana, sued a California utility on Friday for breaching contracts to invest in the Rim Rock wind farm. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent the utility from reneging on its contractual promise to buy the renewable energy generated at the facility.
“The committee finds that the amended project will also result in significant and unmitigable impacts to biological resources due to the risk of solar flux on avian species. The committee recommends denying the project amendment at this time, finding that the totality of the project impacts outweighs the totality of the project benefits.”
The report, which will now go through a 45-day public comment period, analyzed four alternatives, including the possibility of denying the permit application. In addition to retrofitting the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power poles, Shiloh, which is an affiliate of EDF Renewable Development, has agreed to use audio or visual deterrence measures to scare away eagles, migratory birds and bats.
A member of California's fastest-flying bird species was found mortally injured at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert two weeks ago, ReWire has learned. Found on the site still alive, the bird was shipped to a rehabilitation facility by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) but subsequently died of its injuries.
The Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APRWA) provides an excellent introduction to this problem. Its environmental impacts have been well publicized, but now the industry wants to replace small older 50- and 100-kilowatt turbines with huge 2.3-megawatt turbines that it claims are safer. This claim is without merit. Industry studies used to promote the plan are deeply flawed and the much larger 2.3 MW turbines will add more than twice the deadly rotor sweep to Altamont, along with much faster blade tip speeds.
Boulevard activist Donna Tisdale, who works with the Protect our Communities Foundation among other local groups, was blunt in her assessment of Bittner's legacy. In an interview with the local publication East County Magazine , which has been following the Bittner story closely, Tisdale blasted Bittner. "Now we know why Bittner was the go-to-guy for the industry. His services, and whatever ethics or integrity he might have once had, were literally 'for sale' to the highest bidder."
"Bittner repeatedly violated the law by capturing and banding birds without federal and state permits, placing unpermitted devices on birds, conducting aerial surveys after authorization was denied, using wild birds in educational programs without a permit, allowing an eagle carcass to be brought across state lines, failing to properly transfer migratory bird carcasses in a timely manner...
"We need a new model for the way public lands are managed that recognizes we can't keep trying to divide the pie up between exploitation and preservation." ...The move to increase solar permits "just shows the utter blindness that there is in the administration," said Blaeloch, of the Western Lands Project. "The 'all-of-the-above' approach-what kind of thing is that to say about what our energy policy is?" she said. "Let's be a little more discerning."
Over the 30 year life of the Project, 'Project activities are reasonably likely to result in the death of no more than one condor as a result of being struck by a turbine blade.' If a condor is struck by a turbine blade, according to the BLM, "the BLM will require Alta Windpower to cease day-time operations and implement additional measures to ensure that the project does not pose any further threat to condors."
The existence of the permit applications was revealed by FOIA requests by Oklahoma journalist Louise Red Corn, and shared Thursday in a web-based seminar held by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). The 102.5-megawatt Shiloh IV Wind project applied for its take permit in March 2012, and the other three projects have applied in the last six months.
The California condor's slow 20-year climb back from the brink of extinction has long been a fragile not-quite-success story in the conservation world. So when the news came on Friday that developers of a wind-energy project near the Mojave Desert would not face criminal charges if the blades killed a single condor, environmental groups expressed grave concern. "This blindsided folks," Kelly Fuller of the American Bird Conservancy said in an interview.
In granting a right-of-way, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, with approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will shield Alta Windpower Development from prosecution if a condor is fatally injured at its 2,300-acre site near the high-desert town of Mojave during the projected 30-year lifetime of the project.
In response, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is calling on the Department of the Interior to reverse the decision, charging that allowing the legal killing of one of the most imperiled birds in the United States threatens endangered species conservation efforts across the country.
In a decision swiftly condemned by conservationists and wildlife advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said operators of Terra-Gen Power's wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants exceptions to a wind farm and a building project in harassing or killing the endangered birds.