Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Texas
Alliance members said they had hoped to obtain intervenor status so they could request an environmental study be conducted, assessing the wind farms’ possible impact on migrating birds and habitat. The alliance earlier this week announced the preliminary results of an assessment it commissioned, which suggested the wind farms could prove harmful to migrating birds. ...“By refusing the participation of experts who have come to the table to offer their experience and assistance, the PUC is denying itself and our state the benefit of their knowledge and insight,” said Jim Blackburn, an Austin attorney and the alliance’s founder, in a statement.
For all the benefits that wind power could bring, it's important to understand the very real impact these industrial wind power projects would have on this sensitive area. Roads and turbine construction would fragment more than 60,000 acres of undeveloped habitat. Each windmill covers more than an acre of airspace as its 100-foot blades spin, and each turbine requires 1,000 tons of concrete to anchor it to the ground. This project would include more than 21 miles of new electrical towers to support the high-voltage transmission line. More roads, more cranes, more impact.
Two proposed wind farms on Kenedy Ranch could pose "significant" risk to migrating birds, according to a preliminary environmental study commissioned by an environmental group. ...After visiting the wind-farm sites, the environmental consultants concluded that the wind projects would be too close to active bird migration pathways and that bird fatalities could result. The consultants are working on a more extensive study, which likely will be completed in about six weeks, said Elyse Yates, a spokeswoman for Coastal Habitat Alliance, which paid the consultants to conduct the assessment.
The Coastal Habitat Alliance, which is fighting a massive wind farm proposed for the Kenedy Ranch in South Texas, has raised some troubling, not terribly well-studied problems with wind power - namely it may take a toll on wildlife. As it happens, the Kenedy Ranch is smack dab in the middle of one of the most important corridors for migratory birds in the U.S., a sort of feathery superhighway. ...the Alliance's demands are pretty simple - before the PUC grants a permit to build the 21-mile, high-voltage power line, they want a study commissioned on the impact to the birds, bats and bees.
At issue is whether a plan to locate two wind farms along the Texas coast poses a threat to migratory bird species that often use the coastline as a way station on their journey south. The massive turbines, whose blades each measure 100 feet or more, could catch birds as they fly south and potentially alter a rich ecosystem that houses dozens of endangered and threatened species and a diverse landscape.
"There has been exactly zero reports that have been released to the public in Texas about environmental concerns in Texas from wind projects," said Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy at the American Bird Conservancy. "The coastal plain of Texas is one of the most important migratory corridors for birds and we would like to see some kind of evaluation before projects are going on down there."
Environmental groups have teamed with the King and Armstrong ranches to try to stop plans for two wind farms that they claim will kill birds and damage habitat along one of the world's major migratory flyways. The Coastal Habitat Alliance includes the American Bird Conservancy, the Coastal Bend Audubon Society, the Houston Audubon Society and the Lower Laguna Madre Foundation, a local group dedicated to protecting the bay and native habitat. "This is a pristine area that's a very fragile habitat that's right in the middle of one of the most active bird migration pathways in America," said Elyse Yates, an Austin attorney representing the group. "We think this is an inappropriate site for a major industrial wind project like this. We think the harm is irreparable."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has written U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials to say that changing wind farm policies based on the chance that migrating whooping cranes might be hurt would send a bad message.
Interest by California-based AES Wind Generation in establishing a large-scale wind energy operation in Gillespie County is being reconsidered, it was learned here Monday. According to a City of Fredericksburg official who asked not to be identified, a letter from a company officer stated that AES SeaWest Inc. of San Diego has decided to discontinue pursuing wind energy in an area north of Fredericksburg that generally stretches between U.S. Highway 87 and RM 965. Instead, the city official related, the company has decided to focus on other areas in Texas. Prompting the decision, he added, was AES' concerns that sensitive species and bat colonies living in the area could be incompatible with large-scale wind energy.
It’s being billed as clean energy technology said Stehn, whose agency initially endorsed wind farms as an alternative to fossil fuels but is “starting to think more and learn more about the potential impact” to migrating species. ....“We’re concerned. These turbine companies need to comply with the Endangered Species Act,” he said, but “apparently they don’t need a federal permit to build wind turbines in many situations so they don’t even have to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service.” The ESA “says you will not take a whooping crane, you will not kill a whooping crane, so they have to figure out how to comply with that.”
Sarita, Texas - After a century and a half as cordial neighbors, two of the nation's biggest ranches find themselves feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys over wind energy and wildlife and whether the two can coexist. The storied King and Kenedy ranches, which together cover nearly 1.3 million acres in sparsely populated south Texas, are at odds over plans to erect 240-plus wind-powered turbines on the smaller Kenedy property. The structures and their massive blades can stand 400 feet tall - taller than most 30-story buildings. The King Ranch, with 825,000 acres near the Texas Gulf Coast, says the turbines will interfere with migratory birds' flight patterns, threaten other wildlife and create an eyesore.
Plans to build what would have been the nation's largest offshore wind farm in South Texas have been called off because the multibillion-dollar project didn't make economic sense, the developer said Monday...Babcock & Brown Ltd. is moving on with an onshore wind farm in South Texas' Kenedy County, a $700 million-plus venture that calls for 157 turbines on thousands of acres, Calaway said. He noted the expense of building an offshore farm can be more than double the cost of one on land.
Wind power does not, in fact, live up to the claims made by its advocates. Its impact on the environment and people's lives is far from benign. Research also reveals that there is a very cozy relationship between fossil fuel plant owners and wind factory owners. The reason is simple: the more you build wind factories, the more you must build fossil fuel plants. Wind factories cannot operate without standby fossil fuel plants. What a scam! They lead people to believe they replace fossil fuel plants, but the truth is that they perpetuate them! How soon people forget Enron's smoke-and-mirrors business plan. If Jerry Patterson's vision of the Texas coast is one full of wind turbines, then perhaps Texas needs a new land commissioner.
The state's first coastal wind turbine industrial park is set for construction later this year in South Texas and is likely to generate a storm of controversy when the impact on migrating birds becomes clear. The site is Kenedy Ranch property between Corpus Christi and Raymondville. The initial project backed by Spanish utility giant Iberdrola calls for the installation of 87 huge wind turbines with blades reaching some 400 feet skyward. Australian investment firm Babcock and Brown is also said to be planning to build 157 turbines in the coastal county.
WASHINGTON - An unusual coalition of conservationists and coal advocates told Congress on Tuesday that before the nation continues its rapid expansion of wind power, an assessment is needed of how many bats and birds are maimed and killed by wind turbines' blades. That study should be followed up with regulations to protect those species, witnesses told a House Natural Resources subcommittee.
Elsewhere, the General Land Office has gotten into real estate speculation, destroying rare habitats for profit. For instance, in discussions regarding coastal wind farms, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson dismisses grave neo-tropical bird migration concerns with "This is Texas. We don't have Walter Cronkite and Ted Kennedy whining about their back yards."
...the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas and Western Louisiana coast hosts the largest concentration of Neotropical migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere. These birds move by the billions between Latin America and North America.
But the Texas Gulf Coast is properly described as the crown jewel of bird-watching venues. The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail spans the entire 624 miles of our Gulf Coast, from Beaumont to Brownsville the first of its kind in the nation.
Fifty miles south of Corpus Christi, a few miles offshore, as many as 170 wind turbines will tower over the water, generating enough electricity to power 125,000 homes, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said Thursday.
The environmental community is divided over a deal the state`s General Land Office signed with Wind Energy Systems Technology, or WEST. The deal is to develop 50 wind turbines off the coast of Galveston that would power about 40-thousand homes that wouldn`t rely on fossil fuels. The problem is that Galveston is beneath a critical migratory bird path that links North America to Central and South America wintering grounds.