Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from California
A "wind farm" that would take advantage of the gusts that have been blowing through the Central Coast at 30 to 50 mph is moving right along despite a lawsuit filed against the county's approval of the project. Construction won't begin for at least a year, but in the meantime officials of the developer say they are working to meet all the requirements imposed by the county with the intention of protecting the environment surrounding the "clean energy" project.
To his chagrin, some of Mr. Myers's fellow environmentalists are helping power companies pinpoint the best sites for solar-power technology. The goal of his former allies is to combat climate change by harnessing the desert's solar-rich terrain, reducing the region's reliance on carbon-emitting fuels. Mr. Myers is indignant. "How can you say you're going to blade off hundreds of thousands of acres of earth to preserve the Earth?" he said. As the Obama administration puts development of geothermal, wind and solar power on a fast track, the environmental movement finds itself torn between fighting climate change and a passion for saving special places.
The killer of eagles and all birds at wind farms is blade tip speed. ...What is hard to comprehend is that at 20 rotations per minute, the tip speed of the blades for the three turbines works out to 180 mph, 215 mph and 222 miles per hour. The speed and power of these blades is what amputates the wings and heads off flying eagles. From miles away the blades look rather slow, but up close these huge blades move faster than a guillotine.
Wildlife researcher Jim Wiegand says "Green energy is a cover up and a lie because birds of prey are getting killed, people wouldn't believe how these turbines chop them up." Many members of the Pit River Tribe were among the protestors outside the Shasta County Administration Center touting the deadly effects wind turbines have on birds, particularly bald eagles.
Saying its blades will leave eagle blood in the air and on the ground, opponents of the Hatchet Ridge Wind Project are planning a protest rally. "It just really needs to be relooked at," said Radley Davis, a member of the Pit River Tribe and one of the protest organizers. The protest will be at noon Friday in front of the Shasta County Administration Center, organizers said.
Miller, who is president of Friends of Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, told the attendees that Los Angeles citizens are opposing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Green Path project, especially as it could be a threat to Joshua Tree National Park. One plan to foil the energy path is to legally declare Big Morongo Canyon Preserve as a protected wilderness attached to Joshua Tree National Park, where no power lines are allowed. That would disrupt the contiguous transmission towers in one Green Path North alternative proposed by the Los Angeles power company.
California desert lands are in some ways a perfect fit with the renewable energy industries necessary to combat climate change. ...But without careful planning and regulation, these "climate solutions" could irrevocably damage the planet they are intended to protect. The biologically rich but arid desert ecosystems are remarkably fragile. Once topsoil and plant life have been disrupted for the placement of solar arrays, wind farms, power plants, transmission lines and carbon dioxide scrubbers, restoration would be cost-prohibitive, if not technically impossible. And widespread desert construction - even of projects aimed at environmental mitigation - would devastate the very organisms and ecosystems best able to adjust to a warming world.
The biologically rich but arid desert ecosystems are remarkably fragile. Once topsoil and plant life have been disrupted for the placement of solar arrays, wind farms, power plants, transmission lines and CO2 scrubbers, restoration would be cost-prohibitive, if not technically impossible. And widespread desert construction -- even of projects aimed at environmental mitigation -- would devastate the very organisms and ecosystems best able to adjust to a warming world. Nevertheless, there is a public land rush underway.
The Lompoc Wind Farm was on the supervisors' plate this Tuesday after neighbors of the project site, George and Cheryl Bedford, and the California Department of Fish and Game filed appeals of its unanimous approval at the County Planning Commission last fall. The latter objected to the undeniable impact that the wind turbines, with their 135-foot blades approaching 200 miles per hour at the tip, would have on bird and bat populations. The former was more concerned about the desecration of viewsheds and noise pollution.
Santa Barbara County's first renewable wind-energy project, which proponents say could provide enough electricity to serve up to 50,000 homes, was given hands-down approval Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors. The supervisors agreed that the benefits of having a wind farm southwest of Lompoc far outweighed the unavoidable environmental impacts it will bring. ..."I look at these monsters and I don't like them, but they're part of making wind energy, and I guess they're needed," said 5th District Supervisor Joe Centeno.
The proposed wind energy project is before the board because two appeals were filed - by Lompoc area residents George and Cheryl Bedford and the California Department of Fish and Game - after it was approved by the county Planning Commission in September. As it stands, the project was given the green light for a maximum of 65 wind turbines.
Should wind turbines hundreds of feet tall -higher than the existing Kumeyaay wind farm turbines- be allowed in the rural McCain Valley/Boulevard region in East County? Does the nation's critical need for "green" energy outweigh the concerns of residents seeking to preserve the rural character of their backcountry communities? With new industrial-scale wind farms proposed across America, East County Magazine's Gayle Early set out on a quest to explore these issues in depth for our three-part series on wind energy.
In March 2007, April Sall, the conservationist overseeing the Pipes Canyon Preserve in the San Bernardino County desert, got a call from an employee at the federal Bureau of Land Management. The caller wondered if Sall knew of a plan to run 85 miles of electrical transmission lines through the Morongo Basin, on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, and through parts of the 20,000-acre private preserve northeast of Yucca Valley.
The permitting disputes demonstrate some of the hurdles that renewable energy developers face not just in California, but nationwide, and cast a light on the difficulties policy makers face in trying to balance clean-energy development with other environmental goals. "There has to be some reconciling of two very important societal values: protection of wildlife including birds, and moving forward with some haste to get alternative energy going," said Doug Anthony, deputy director of the Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Department's Energy Division.
This afternoon, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors will have a hearing concerning the Hatchet Ridge Wind project. The board's decision will have a significant impact on birds living in and migrating through the West. The Board of Supervisors has not been given the knowledge to make a proper decision on the project. ...The wind power industry learned a lesson from the astounding number of bird kills at Altamont Pass. Instead of pursuing better wind turbine designs that would limit bird kills, it chose a path of cover-up and lies. Today many wind turbine sites have limited access and workers will lose their jobs if they disclose the truth.
"While we are gratified that the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the traditional public trust ownership of wildlife, we are disappointed that it rejected the possibility of a lawsuit directly against those who are illegally killing wildlife," said Rick Wiebe, the attorney representing the Center for Biological Diversity. "A lawsuit against those who are killing wildlife is the most direct and effective means of protecting wildlife and vindicating the public trust in wildlife."
"Our little community is under such an assault from all these wind energy corporations," Boulevard Planning Group Chair Donna Tisdale said. Tisdale is one of the property owners who was approached by a wind farm company called Invenergy. She says Invenergy offered her more than $20,000 per year for the rights to build wind turbines on her property - this on land that is not zoned for a wind farm.
Even though an alternative energy project near Lompoc will most likely kill an unknown number of birds or bats, the Santa Barbara County planning staff has recommended that it be approved Tuesday. ...The project, which comprises 65 wind turbines, onsite collector power lines, electrical substation operations and maintenance building and other facilities, would pose several environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated. ...Although the final environmental report concluded that a downsized project would be environmentally superior, county planning staff disagreed. "The benefits of the full, proposed project far outweigh the adverse environmental impacts associated with it," the staff report stated.
A lawsuit contending the whirling blades on the hundreds of windmills in the Altamont Pass area are killing birds has been rejected by the First District Court of Appeal. "Permitting the action to proceed as presented would require the court to make complex and delicate balancing judgments without the benefit of the expertise of the agencies responsible for protecting the trust resources and would threaten redundancy at best and inconsistency at worst," the appellate court decision says.
LADWP claims that these transmission lines are necessary to bring renewable energy into the urban city to "diversify their energy portfolio." Development of renewable energy resources including geothermal, solar and wind, should be our highest priority to replace fossil fuels. However, for LADWP to destroy pristine desert and conservation lands in the process, including condemnation of private property, is not a "green" way to go about it. I further disagree that LADWP needs to own its own transmission lines, when there are existing corridors that were established through years of focus and study and could be the shared with other utilities.