Library filed under Impact on Birds from New York
The Act creates a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting, which will work with other agencies to review and set conditions for proposed renewable energy projects. The input of wildlife management agencies will be crucial to ensure that birds receive adequate protection, but under the new law, these agencies are given short time windows to participate. Insufficient staffing, busy seasons, and many other factors could prevent meaningful review and input, potentially leaving birds largely out of the discussion.
The state wants to get its electricity from carbon-free sources, but expanding renewable energy faces a range of hurdles.
Mr. Schneider said there are less-intrusive ways to survey the islands for eagles. Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. conducted on-ground surveys for Apex in 2017 and 2018. He said that Apex already knew that eagles used Galloo Island for breeding, and he wasn’t certain if any state agency required the firm to conduct additional surveys. The question remains how long will the state put up with bad faith actions on the part of Apex.
To avoid bird deaths, the organization said, companies shouldn’t locate wind turbines in areas where there is high risk of bird collisions. “In my opinion, there are probably two places that are absolutely the worst places to put wind turbines. It’s the Great Lakes region and the Gulf Coast of the United States,” said Shawn Graff, vice president of the Great Lakes Region at the American Bird Conservancy. “In these areas, during migration, the number of birds is huge.”
After it was revealed that Apex Clean Energy omitted the finding of a bald eagle nest on Galloo Island in spring 2017 from the application for its 109-megawatt project, administrative law judges allowed parties involved in the review to withdraw from the stipulations pertaining to studies of terrestrial ecology, wetlands and other related matters. ...Both the state departments of Public Service and Environmental Conservation said they have withdrawn from the particular stipulations due to Apex’s decision not to divulge the knowledge of the nest and the lack of studies to address it.
Certainly, the possibility of declining rare and endangered species in the county is reason enough for concern. In fact, bird migration patterns along the Lake Erie shoreline was one reason why the proposed Ripley-Westfield wind facility was shot down some 10 years ago. At a July 29, 2008 public scope meeting regarding the 83 wind turbines proposed for the two towns, Len DeFrancisco cited a 2003 study that showed the project area has one of the highest spring nocturnal bird migration rates anywhere in North America.
“When an applicant withholds information regarding the environmental conditions in a siting application and those conditions are relevant and material to the agencies’ review of the application and negotiation of stipulations and studies to be performed, it raises serious questions about the applicant’s character and fitness,” Judge Caruso said in the ruling. “Any delay in this process was caused by the Applicant’s own decision to withhold relevant and material information, information that needed review and verification by” staff.
All the more reason New York residents should hold Apex Wind and the state accountable when it comes to open, honest, and transparent risk assessments and reports of post-construction mortality data. This is the only way to ensure poorly sited projects do not advance, and that projects that do advance accurately address the true cost of mitigation.
American Bird Conservancy has major concerns about Apex’s plan to build the Lighthouse Wind energy project in Niagara and Orleans counties. The project proposes to place dozens of industrial wind turbines along the south shore of Lake Ontario, extending 4.5 miles from the shore along a 12-mile stretch of shoreline.
A party to the Article 10 review of the proposed Galloo Island commercial wind project has complained to the siting board that the Department of Environmental Conservation is trying to suppress information about a bald eagle nesting site on the island, including an attempt to slap a gag order on all participants in the proceeding.
Clifford Schneider, a biologist and former Lake Ontario unit leader for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, submitted this memo to the New York State siting board outlining the process he followed when informing the State of at least one active bald eagle nest within the proposed Galloo Island Wind project site. Until this letter, neither the State nor Apex, the project proponent, reported eagles in the area. Mr. Schneider raises concerns regarding the response to his report of eagles by the applicant, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Environmental Conservation. An excerpt of his memo is provided below. The full memo can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
Mr. Burger said building roads and bases for turbines in the area would reduce the amount of available grassland for birds to live and breed. Mrs. Liner said in the letter that grassland birds typically require large fields that allow them to avoid predators in order to breed, adding that several species such as Henslow’s Sparrow and the Northern Harrier prefer having 100 acres available for habitation or more.
This letter by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was submitted to the State of New York in reference to a pending proposal to build a wind turbine project in the very sensitive land area on and around Galloo Island. The letter can be accessed by clicking on the links included on this page. The letter was submitted by Clifford P. Schneider with an accompanying letter by Mr. Schneider explaining the federal agency's concerns with the project application.
I attended an informational meeting on Jan. 10 sponsored by Apex Clean Energy at the Yates-Carlton Sportsman’s Club in Lyndonville. After their presentation the three Apex spokesmen opened up the floor for questions.
Jefferson County Planning Board member Clifford P. Schneider, a retired wildlife biologist, said in a letter to the PSC that Apex Clean Energy used studies from the first Galloo Island proposal, filed by a different company, to minimize the potential environmental impacts of the project. And he attacked his former agency for altering report results to diminish their importance.
Jefferson County Planning Board member Clifford P. Schneider claimed that Apex Clean Energy failed to address the potential number of birds and bats that could die from colliding with their turbines’ blades and rotors for its proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm. He requested that the developer should conduct a radar study in 2017 to determine that statistic.
According to Brett Ewald, a biologist and naturalist of Lakeshore Nature Tours, Western New York is the top raptor migration flyway in eastern North America. Raptors migrate from the south to the north to breed in the spring.
The group’s report claimed that the Somerset-Yates project would interfere with migratory songbirds and raptors, which “concentrate within six miles of the shoreline during spring and fall of each year.” Also, it would be built “close to breeding habitat for declining grassland birds,” which could be displaced, the conservation group claimed.
The nationwide survey by the ABC listed the vast numbers of migratory songbirds and raptors which rely on this area, as well as the proximity to the breeding habitat for declining grassland birds for why the Lighthouse Wind project is on the list. “(United States Fish and Wildlife Service) has expressed serious concern about this project, warning the developer that this is an area of extremely high avian use,” ABC said regarding the proposed project.
This bald eagle landed in Save Ontario Shores' President John Riggi's front yard in Lyndonville on May 29. The bald eagle is considered to be a "threatened" species by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.