Articles filed under Impact on Bats from USA
A divided Public Utility Commission shut the door Wednesday on conservationists' efforts to air concerns about the effect of planned Gulf Coast wind farms on migratory birds. ...Chairman Paul Hudson dissented, saying it would be in the public's interest for the commission to hear about the environmental impact and that denying the intervention would prevent the PUC from ever looking at the alliance's argument.
Alexander Skirpan, the hearing examiner, made several recommendations most will appreciate, including requiring mitigation and monitoring throughout the life of the project as needed. ...But most still retain hope the project will never come to fruition. Hurdles remain. Investors will be wary of HNWD's decision to ignore strong advice about getting a habitat conservation plan and incidental take permit for endangered species. There are still lawyers waiting in the wings for the first time one of those raptors is found dead at the foot of a wind tower. Without taking the best steps to mitigate its own financial outlook, HNWD may not be able to get backing it needs.
Following State Corporation Commission's decision in March to remand the case to its hearing examiner for further review on environmental concerns, months of testimony have been submitted and reviewed. This week, the hearing examiner, Alexander J. Skirpan, submitted another report to commissioners, this time recommending "robust" monitoring of the potentially adverse impacts to wildlife, for the expected 20-year life of the project. ...Skirpan had previously concluded HNWD's project be approved by the SCC. But commissioners wanted to know what kind of details a monitoring and mitigation plan would include, rather than leaving those issues up to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and HNWD.
Backers of a proposed wind farm in Highland County would have to search daily for dead birds and bats and curtail turbine operations to limit loss of animal life under a proposed wildlife-protection plan issued Wednesday by a Virginia State Corporation Commission hearing officer. ...Citing "significant risk" to bats, and "a lesser risk" to birds, Skirpan recommended that backers of the 19-turbine project should pay for monitoring and altering their use, including speed, for the life of the wind farm.
Developers have cleared another hurdle for a wind farm in Highland County. A hearing examiner has asked the State Corporation Commission to approve his recommendations to reduce harm to native birds and bats.
The petition basically duplicates the concerns the USFWS raised two months ago. It says that studies at existing wind facilities "have shown high mortality rates for birds and, especially so, for bats. Not mentioned in the hearings nor in any developer studies is the fact that ducks, geese, and other water fowl migrate over these ridge lines and stop over in the wetlands in the Sheffield project area. Threatened species of interior forest birds come north to live here for the warmer months. We are very concerned that their habitat and nesting will be severely interrupted. "Given the political pressure in Vermont and New England to construct renewable electric generation developments, particularly industrial-scale wind plants, we are concerned that otherwise thoughtful biologists and wildlife experts are being compelled to ignore their best judgment," it says. "We encourage you and your colleagues in EPA and the Corps of Engineers to exercise your authorities to the fullest and hope that our state and federal officials will encourage you as well.
The California Energy Commission voted 3-0 Wednesday to approve voluntary guidelines to help reduce bird and bat deaths at wind turbines. The guidelines are meant to protect wildlife as the state moves to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Bird kills by the whirling blades have been the subject of lawsuits and injunctions in recent years.
Illinois can expect bird deaths to grow as the number of wind turbines generating electricity grows. Jack Darin, president of the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, discusses the findings of a Department of Natural Resources study that wind turbines used to generate electricity do result in the killing of birds.
Despite proof that birds and bats are being killed by the rotating blades of wind turbines, a new state report says more studies are needed to determine if anything should be done about it. ...But, the report did not call for any immediate action by the state. ''Until the impacts are better understood, regulatory action for wildlife protection is not recommended,'' the report noted.
The Pennsylvania Biological Survey has gone to bat for the bats in a swirling policy debate over whether commercial wind power development should be permitted in state forests. The debate pits advocates of wind power as an alternative energy source against those who fear that windmills are harmful to bats and birds.
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.
Bats serve important ecological functions that keep natural systems in balance, especially insect control. Their diminishment could impact humans in ways ranging from decreased crop yields and increased use of pesticides to greater incidence of insect-borne diseases. There is a risk that the public will accept wind energy as an easy solution to global warming without understanding the necessity of monitoring and mitigation requirements. It is important for the public to recognize that while the proposed development could produce up to 39 megawatts of power under ideal conditions, eastern turbines average less than a third of that amount over the course a year, and much less than a third during the summer when electricity demand is highest.
Additionally, according to the National Wildlife Federation, wind-powered turbines could pose a threat to Indiana bats and other bat species, as well as birds. Some studies suggest the turbines might account for thousands of dead bats and birds yearly, the federation says.
More consideration and belief need to be given to the vast research that has been done regarding the impact of wind turbines on our environment before decisions are made again that will profit a few and harm many.
Birds and bats have a powerful advocate in the new Congress. It's making people in the wind energy industry nervous. Representative Nick Rahall is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Rahall is pushing legislation that would more strictly regulate wind energy to protect the birds and bats that are killed when they fly into wind turbines.
News of a recently released consultants' study that found 123 birds and 326 bats dead - during a five-month period last year beneath approximately 50 turbines on the Tug Hill Plateau - has him worried the impact may be even more severe on birds and bats than the study found. "It's not a good thing for avian life," Newhart said, adding he'd previously contacted Cornell University's ornithology department to check on impact turbines have. "I'm going to send this information out to Cornell to see if that engages them.
While generating megawatts of electricity, windmills on the Tug Hill Plateau in northern New York are also killing hundreds of bats and birds, according to a recent study. The Adirondack Council repeated concerns that wind turbine parks have been proposed in a virtual ring around the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, saying the threat to migratory birds needs to be better studied before towers are built. "It's hard to justify this kind of bird and bat slaughter for the amount of electricity we're generating here," council spokesman John Sheehan said.
The wind-energy industry is objecting to federal legislation that seeks to protect birds and bats from wind turbines, arguing the measure would place unnecessary burdens on clean-energy projects. The Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act, a wide-ranging energy bill introduced this month, would create new standards for the placement and construction of turbines and mandate post-construction monitoring of their effects on wildlife.
Wind farms do kill animals in flight, but not always the obvious ones. Bats, not birds, appear to be the main victims of land-based wind turbines in the US, according to a report by the US National Research Council.
Ducks in the Dakotas, tanagers in Texas and grosbeaks along the Gulf of Mexico could all be hit by the rapid growth of wind power unless the renewable electricity farms are carefully sited, experts said. "The first three rules of avoiding impacts with wind turbines are always going to be location, location, location," Mike Daulton, a spokesman with the National Audubon Society, said in a telephone interview. Clean-energy wind farms are cropping up rapidly in the United States on rising concerns about greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions and flat output of natural gas, which fires most of the power plants built since the 1990s. U.S. wind power is expected to increase by 26 percent in installed generation this year, after similar growth last year. A study by the National Academy of Sciences released late this week found that wind energy could reduce the energy sector's carbon dioxide emissions by 4.5 percent by 2020. But federal and state governments should take environmental impacts of wind energy more seriously as part of the planning, locating and regulating turbines, it said.