Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Vermont
The developer of two solar projects in Rutland Town wants to block information from an environmental group — including photographic evidence of heavy use by wildlife in a now-forested site targeted for development — claiming the group obtained the information by trespassing on the firm’s property.
"So this is yet again a political decision not based on good process, not based on good science and is yet another bit of evidence of how the wind industry has corrupted our regulatory process."
"We just don't know once these turbines are up, are the bears still going to feel comfortable spending all this time sitting up in these trees, and foraging under these trees?"
For decades, organizations including Vermont Natural Resources Council, Conservation Law Foundation, Sierra Club, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Preservation Trust and others could be counted on to show up at the merest hint of potential development anywhere in Vermont. Lobbying in Montpellier and using Act 250 and local regulations, those groups helped preserve the landscape that we love.
"So, what did we decide. Did we want to bring the rifle ... or not?" says Forrest Hammond.
This photo essay, compiled by Peak Keepers of Vermont's Mountains, is dedicated to all animal species, large and small, that rely on the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, for their home habitat, for their water, their food and social interaction. They have no say in our world. They cannot decide to tear apart a mountain for their own good. For them there is no such thing as global warming or green energy. And excerpt of the essay is provided below. The full photo essay can be accessed by clicking the link(s) on this page.
GMP will also continue to follow its certificate of public good which requires voluntary curtailment of turbine operation during calm or nearly calm summer evenings when bats are out hunting. The agreement gave GMP a permit allowing a handful of bats to be killed at the wind project each year, with the understanding that more bats would be saved through the mitigation funding than lost at the wind project.
In a sign that endangered bats may be the next point of contention in the ongoing debate over ridgeline wind in Vermont, wind opponents asked for a hearing on GMP’s request for a permit to kill up to seven bats a year. The company says it faces economic hardship if it’s forced to curtail operations to fully protect the creatures.
The Vermont Department of Public Service recommended that state utility regulators find the Lowell wind project in violation of its operating certificate for exceeding noise limits four times last winter. However, the department asked the Vermont Public Service Board not to impose sanctions right away on Green Mountain Power, which operates the Lowell wind project, to give GMP time to remedy the problems that caused excessive noise, according to filings with the board.
Ridgeline wind project opponents want hearings on a permit application by Green Mountain Power to allow the deaths of a small number of endangered or protected bats each year by Lowell wind turbines.
William Staats, a wildlife biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game, submitted this testimony before the State of Vermont Senate Health & Welfare Committee Hearing on Health Issues Associated with Wind Turbines. Testimony was also presented at the Vermont House Natural Resources & Energy Committee. Mr. Staats resides in Vermont and has direct experience with the impacts of industrial scale wind energy development on New Hampshire ridgelines. His testimony provides critical insight into the true impacts of the towers on the State's wilderness areas.
We shouldn't dynamite our mountain ridgelines to build a tool that can't achieve our carbon reduction objective. We shouldn't build power plants in the Kingdom when the demand is in Chittenden County. We shouldn't ignore the clear-cutting of hundreds of acres of trees that are our best carbon vacuum cleaners. We shouldn't allow runoff from miles of mountaintop roads and dozens of massive concrete base pads akin to any Wal-Mart parking lot. We shouldn't use a tool that kills off wildlife. How can anyone possibly justify such a tool receiving a permit to take endangered species?
Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE), along with the Wilderness Society and Defenders of Wildlife, are trying to block the plan. VCE recently filed a motion for summary judgment in US District Court, claiming the project planning did not correctly carry out evaluation processes required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) has issued the first permit of its kind for a wind project in the state allowing a small number of fatalities of endangered bats, which could collide with the turbine blades or be affected by the pressure changes created by the rotating turbines.
Without the permit, now in its draft form, First Wind would be prohibited by law from any fatalities of the endangered bat species as a result of its activity at the Sheffield site. The Boston-based First Wind company is seeking the permit citing economic hardship.
These bat species are far more important than First Wind's profits. There's presently a glut of generation in New England and First Wind's intermittent power does nothing more than add to the surplus on the grid. ...First Wind agreed to curtailment during low wind speeds at certain temperatures and now seems to be complaining that such curtailment won't be profitable. Too bad for them.
Sheffield Wind, whose 16-turbine, 40-megawatt utility scale project in the Northeast Kingdom went on line last fall, has filed for the permit because a fungus has decimated Vermont bat populations and placed them on the endangered or threatened species list. "White-nose syndrome" has caused mortality of more than 90 percent of the population of little brown and long-eared bats in the state.
Environmental concerns around the sites in Brighton and Ferdinand where a New Hampshire wind project developer is seeking to place meteorological towers have the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources suggesting a limit on when the sites can be disturbed.
Wright captured the bird's-eye view of the development from between 500 and 1000 feet above the construction site, where GMP is rushing to complete the wind project by the end of the calendar year. Wright finds himself on one side of a fierce debate over wind power in Vermont that pits environmentalists worried about habitat destruction against environmentalists worried about renewable energy.
According to an email from Deputy Secretary Christopher Recchia "(the agency) did not see a way of overcoming these resource obstacles, as there is no opportunity for nearby off site compensation that could maintain the connectivity goal, not to mention the steep hurdle of the natural communities on the site."