Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from California
Dave Bittner, Golden Eagle expert with Wildlife Research Institute, pled guilty to federal charges of unlawful taking of Golden Eagles --working without valid permit and failure to file reports. Bittner conducted studies for Iberdrola's Tule Wind project approved by BLM and San Diego County for public and private land in the McCain Valley National Cooperative Land & Wildlife Management & Recreation Area. Tule Wind decisions by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for turbines on Ewiiaapaayp tribal lands, with a reported 6-8 Golden Eagle nests, and on State Lands Commission lands in Golden Eagle habitat are still pending. Can those agencies rely on Bitner's Golden Eagle work for Tule Wind that was apparently unpermitted and unlawful? What other breaches of law or professional ethics might be involved?
Center for Biological Diversity partnered with Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife to sue the Board of Supervisors in March 2012, claiming the impact report did not incorporate enough protections for endangered birds like the golden eagle and California condor. They also said the report did not consider a reasonable range of project alternatives, include enough mitigation measures, or adequately explain why the county rejected curtailment - shutting down turbines at certain times - as a way to reduce bird fatalities.
"The [Heron Bay Homeowners Association] board has to make formal vote on it, but I think we were committed before and we're committed now that we will be filing in Superior Court," said Alan Berger, the attorney for the homeowners association. "We absolutely do not feel the board of zoning and the city council followed all of the voluminous case law in California ...."
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the death of a golden eagle at a wind farm in Kern County, California, and is asking for local resident's help.
"Un-permitted take of eagles is the illegal take of eagles," Birchell said in the release. "We want power companies or any company involved in planning to build wind generation facilities in the Tehachapi range, where a significant golden eagle population exists, to contact the Service well in advance of construction and work with our biologists to develop conservation plans that will avoid take of eagles."
Is the federal government turning a blind eye to violations of state laws intended to protect raptors (birds of prey) and other wildlife at the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility? That's the contention of a lawsuit filed by the Desert Protective Council, an environmental group, and others against the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Pattern Energy and others.
North Sky River's developer NextEra and government agencies pushed forward with the project despite high wildlife mortality and the nearby Pine Tree wind project. The aim was to get North Sky River producing power by December 31 so that it could qualify for the federal Wind Production Tax Credit.
A proposed wind turbine installation that would have covered more than 63,000 acres of the California desert on the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park has been canceled by the Bureau of Land Management, ReWire has learned.
The Bureau of Land Management estimated the project would kill or dislocate about 38 tortoises. Construction had barely begun two years ago, though, when so many tortoises turned up that work was halted for a reassessment. By the end of June, the count was 144, 67 of them juveniles. The BLM found that many more could be uprooted or harmed as the project proceeds.
Two new lawsuits were filed September 11, 2012 against federal officials and the U.S. government seeking an injunction to halt construction at Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express industrial wind project.
A pair of stories in the last week detailed conflicts between San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and national environmental groups over two separate wind projects. One of the conflicts appears to have been resolved amicably, while the other is headed to the courtroom. And each story involves the power of flight.
The Fish and Wildlife Service administers eagle take permits under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The legal provisions allow businesses to kill limited numbers of eagles during normal operations. In return, permit holders commit to compensatory measures designed to offset the damage.
Ken Collum, field manager for the BLM's Eagle Lake office, said the agency sent Invenergy a letter in May requesting a development alternative that is completely outside of Sage-Grouse habitat.
Now, in what has become one of the most critical conservation issues in the state, wind farms are considering using radar units and experimental telemetry systems that they hope will avoid harming birds by identifying incoming species early enough to switch off the massive turbines and then - to minimize costs and maximize profits - turn them back on again as quickly as possible.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on the project's Environmental Impact Statement over the objection of Native American tribal officials who remain concerned about the aesthetic impact of the project on ancestral lands and the potential for disturbing cultural and archaeological artifacts, including possible cremation sites.
"To have the Governor's office tell our park officials NOT to comment on Ocotillo, OR ANY OTHER alternative energy projects adjacent to the Park, is a travesty, a violation of the trust between the citizens and the state." - Mark Jorgensen, retired Superintendent, Anza Borrego Desert State Park in an e-mail to ECM.
Across the nation, about 450,000 birds are killed every year at wind farms. According to Dave Bittner, executive director for the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona, golden eagles are another bird species vulnerable to the windmills. "They're big soaring birds and they like to hunt under the towers," he said.
“Our community and surrounding area will be devastated if Invenergy is allowed to build their 125 new turbines on Campo tribal land, and Iberdrola Renewables is allowed to build their Tule Wind project in McCain Valley with 134 turbines, and Enel Green Power is allowed to build their 80 or so turbines in Jewel Valley and McCain Valley,” Bonfiglio wrote.
Audubon and other bird advocates say the DWP should have done more extensive monitoring before building the 90 or so turbines at Pine Tree. Killing a golden eagle is a federal crime.
"The increasing golden eagle mortality at Pine Tree clearly points to wind turbines built in the wrong location," said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. The utility needs to redesign its 250-megawatt Pine Tree network and Kern County needs to put a moratorium on construction of nearby wind farms to prevent deaths, Anderson said.