Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Rhode Island
Little is known about how marine life will respond to the electromagnetic fields emanating from the spiderweb of cables carrying electricity from the Block Island Wind Farm and the many other offshore wind-power installations planned for the East Coast. But a new series of studies by a team of oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island suggests that some organisms will definitely be impacted.
Locally, Massachusetts and Rhode Island commercial and recreation fishermen continue to be concerned about the lack of habitat and fish studies before development starts in wind farm lease areas.
At issue is the layout of the project. Fishermen want wide corridors, specifically a mile or wider oriented east to west. Current plans offer two 1-mile corridors, with only one running east to west. As an alternative, Vineyard Wind proposed using larger turbines with nearly 10 megawatts of capacity, thereby reducing the number of towers ...but pose risk to the project because they haven’t received design certification.
The Fishermen’s Advisory Board, which advises the Coastal Resources Management Council on fishing issues related to offshore wind, voted unanimously Monday to deny its support out of fear that the layout of the project’s 84 towering wind turbines in Rhode Island Sound would close off fishing grounds that are considered some of the most productive for the state’s commercial fleet.
The most surprising result of the acoustic monitoring of the wind farm construction was the intensity of the vibrations felt in the seabed from the pile driving. “The impact on the animals on the seabed is potentially worse than for those in the water column,” Miller said. “It may have had an effect on nearby bottom-dwelling organisms like flounder and lobsters, which have a huge economic value in the state. But we’re still trying to understand what that effect may be.
The representatives are renewing their calls for a study commission in light of Deepwater Wind’s recent announcement of plans to expand the offshore wind farm off the Rhode Island coast.
A spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the agency is aware of the humpback whale that washed ashore on Block Island this past week, adding that the number of whale deaths throughout the eastern shore since early 2016 is “alarming.” ...Some people in New England are claiming that the existence of the five turbines comprising the Block Island Wind Farm are contributing to the unusual mortality rate.
“If necropsy shows that a perfectly healthy whale beached itself where offshore wind turbines do exist, they need to really check what kind of sound these things are putting out,” Bonnie Brady, director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association who regularly discusses the impacts of noise on marine mammals, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There have been an unusual amount of strandings this year.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to Deepwater Wind Block Island LLC (DWBI) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to construction of the Block Island Wind Farm. The authorization is effective from Oct. 31, 2014, through Oct. 30, 2015.
Deepwater Wind has reached an agreement with a coalition of environmental groups to minimize disturbances to endangered whales when it builds a proposed wind farm of up to 200 turbines in federal waters in Rhode Island Sound.
The developer proposing to erect five wind turbines off Block Island announced on Monday that due to concerns about the endangered North Atlantic right whales it has revised its construction plans for the demonstration project slated to begin in 2015.
Nearly all of the whales were in an area being studied for the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan. The Ocean SAMP is an effort to evaluate and zone Rhode Island coastal waters with an eye toward commercial wind development. The study will cover wide-ranging issues - shipping traffic, bird migration - that could be impacted by possible wind farm development.
The electromagnetic fields generated by underwater electric transmission cables from offshore wind farms and pile driving during wind turbine construction may have major effects on fish, according to two British researchers who spoke March 31 at the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus in Narragansett. Sharks, skates and rays are attracted to underwater electric cables, according to Professor Andrew Gill of Cranfield University in the United Kingdom.
Off-shore wind turbines may be placed in the ocean south of Rhode Island without major harm to bird populations, according to the preliminary findings of a University of Rhode Island study. Last week, Peter Paton, chair of the URI Natural Resources Science Department, presented the first three months of ocean bird survey data to about 30 people at the Audubon Society of R.I. Environmental Education Center in Bristol.
Kunz, an internationally known bat researcher and director of BU’s Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology, said wind turbines annually kill many raptors as well as tens of thousands of bats in the United States. Since these turbines have been promoted as an answer to America’s energy woes, Kunz called for more research into the environmental effects of wind power. He also warned that high numbers of bat fatalities may cause populations of insects to increase dramatically. ...Unfortunately, Kunz said, many power companies refuse to fund research on the impacts of wind farms and some even deny scientists access to turbines to count bird and bat fatalities.
An internationally known bat researcher, however, says tens of thousands of bats are killed annually by wind turbines in the US. Unless researchers are monitoring a site, says Boston University professor Thomas Kunz, bat fatalities often go undetected, because their bodies are lost in the brush or eaten by scavengers. In a November 19 lecture sponsored by the Rhode Island National History Survey, Kunz, director of BU's Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology, labeled wind energy "brown," not green. He also warned that high numbers of bat fatalities may cause populations of insects to increase dramatically.
The Conservation Commission listed environmental concerns to be considered for the wind power feasibility study now underway and sustainable energy consultants gathered information from board members and talked about goals of the study at the Aug. 12 meeting. Conservation Commissioner Cathy Roheim updated the board on the progress made by the Jamestown Wind Energy Committee.
The group of stakeholders who are evaluating potential sites for a state-built wind farm had more questions about the project's impact yesterday, including how it will look from land and how it will affect recreational and commercial fishing. ...Lanny Dellinger, president of the Rhode Island Lobsterman Association, said that two areas being considered, off the South County shore, are prime areas for several kinds of fishing, including for squid. ...Curt Spalding, executive director of Save the Bay, said the group needed to see how the project would look from land at each proposed site before the stakeholders can make an informed recommendation. "This is the most important thing - how it looks," Spalding said. "We can talk all day about everything else but this is it. We all know the Cape Wind issue."
But that is precisely where the debate begins. Do large wind power facilities actually reduce the effects of fossil fuel use? Opponents look at the evidence -- instead of the industry's sales material -- and find that they do not. Therefore even the most downplayed impact is not justified.