Library from Ohio
The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a challenge of the way state officials approved a wind farm in Champaign County.
But government officials, legal experts and opponents of the Lake Erie project say many hurdles remain before construction can begin. The company has yet to receive the go ahead from a litany of necessary state and federal regulatory bodies.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit recently held that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving an Ohio wind energy project without looking at all reasonable alternatives for reducing deaths to the endangered Indiana bat. See Union Neighbors United Inc. v. Jewell, No. 15-5147 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 5, 2016). However, the FWS prevailed on a separate ESA claim, in which the court held that the FWS’s interpretation of the ESA was entitled to deference.
Iberdrola Renewables, has filed a lawsuit in Ohio to prevent two state agencies from making public what it calls “trade secrets.” The legal action comes after an Ohio bird conservation group, Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), asked to see bird and bat mortality data for Blue Creek.
CLC and Union Neighbors challenged the agency's refusal to consider the higher cut-in speed proposal. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of CLC, stating that "[FWS] failed to comply with its NEPA obligations when it failed to consider an economically feasible alternative that would take fewer bats than Buckeye’s proposal."
“We conclude the (wildlife) service failed to comply with its NEPA obligations when it failed to consider an economically feasible alternative that would take fewer bats than Buckeye’s proposal, and we reverse the district court on that point,” [Circuit Judge Robert L.] Wilkins stated.
A U.S. Appeals Court ruling provided mixed results for a proposed wind farm in Champaign County. ...The court ruled that the federal agency used the correct standard to show Everpower minimized the impact but failed to consider other alternatives that would have led to fewer bats killed.
"The Service knew, at a minimum, that Buckeye claimed a full nighttime option was not economically viable, and it was aware of other, more viable measures that would still take fewer bats than Buckeye's proposal - Union Neighbors repeatedly suggested using a cut-in speed higher than 6.0 m/s," Judge Robert Wilkins said, writing for the three-judge panel. "Yet the Service failed to consider any higher cut-in speed in either the draft or final [environmental impact statement]."
The attached appeal made by Union Neighbors United Inc. challenges the prior decision to grant an incidental take permit to Buckeye Wind LLC, enabling its wind project in Ohio to pose a threat to the endangered Indiana bat population and its habitat. Union Neighbors claims that the US Fish and Wildlife Service failed to comply with NEPA and ESA guidelines, thereby wrongly issuing the permit. The appellate court agrees that the Service did not comply with NEPA guidelines as it failed to consider a reasonable range of alternatives that would lessen the take of bats in the area, however it upheld the prior decision that the Service adequately complied with the ESA by ensuring that Buckeye Wind took necessary measures to minimize and mitigate the impact on the Indiana bat population.
The legal dispute was generated by an Ottawa County birding organization, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Oak Harbor, which contends that bird death data held by both federal and state agencies is public information. Blue Creek Wind Farm LLC, which operates a wind farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties in Ohio and Allen County, Indiana, says releasing its bird and bat kill reports would provide "trade secrets" to its competitors.
In the decision, commissioners said Everpower didn’t meet all the requirements of the application and failed to show why the project would have a positive impact on the local economy. ...Commissioner’s also cited a public meeting where about 40 residents spoke out against the project and only the developer spoke in favor.
“If the only feasible way this project can go forward is through a tax exemption and payment in lieu of taxes, as the wind developer claims, then something is wrong with the State tax law,” the resolution reads.
“The Logan County Board of County Commissioners is not convinced that over the life of the project that granting the PILOT would benefit the community. Likewise with respect to job creation, the Logan County Board of County Commissioners is not convinced that the amount of taxes abated would be exceeded by the benefit of gaining relatively few permanent employees,” the resolution reads.
The Ohio House of Representatives will consider eliminating Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. Introduced today by Rep. Ron Amstutz, a Wooster Republican, House Bill 554 is a companion to Senate Bill 320, introduced two weeks ago by Cincinnati Republican Sen. Bill Seitz.
A long-stalled, controversial wind farm in Champaign County recently took a big step toward construction but a debate over the future of Ohio’s renewable energy rules could continue to slow its development.
Wind may indeed be free, but opponents of wind energy maintain that harvesting that energy is anything but. “There are problems with this that people are not aware of, and one of the biggest ones is that wind is one of the most expensive ways to reduce (carbon dioxide),” according to Kevon Martis, founder of the Michigan-based Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition.
Kasich’s team told Seitz they didn’t want the standards to be frozen indefinitely. Seitz said he would come up with a definite date, which led to the planned end-date of Dec. 31, 2019. The two sides met about six weeks ago to talk about it.
State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said the draft legislation circulated last week tacks another three years onto a current two-year delay in phasing in state targets for use of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy by Ohio power companies.
Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, has been circulating a draft of a three-year extension of the freeze and could introduce it as a bill as soon as next week, according to lawmakers and lobbyists who are closely following it. The bill would seek to implement some of the recommendations of the Energy Mandates Study Committee, a joint House-Senate panel that issued a final report in September.
The court’s majority found opponents failed to demonstrate the board’s action was unreasonable or unlawful. Justices Sharon Kennedy and Paul Pfeifer dissented.