Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Virginia
Sapsuckers are unfortunately one of the causalities from wind turbines. As a bird that migrates at night, it cannot easily see the spinning turbine, and tens of thousands of these birds collide with them and die during the fall and spring migrations. Reducing the number of sapsuckers puts pressure on these other species that depend on them and, even if those dependent animals are not known to collide with wind turbines, the death of one can become the death of many.
Virginia offshore wind development efforts are running into concerns about protecting endangered whales. The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whale species on the planet, the Virginia Conservation Network’s Chelsea Harnish told the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority Wednesday.
Highlanders For Responsible Development (HRD) has donated $1,000 to support a West Virginia University research effort to better determine the status and behaviour of golden eagles in the central Appalachians, including Highland County and the surrounding area. A major concern for HRD and the WVU research group is the potential for golden eagle mortality and population impacts associated with construction of utility-scale wind turbines on mountain ridges in the region.
All of these factors were addressed in the original Wind Energy Ordinance approved by the Northampton Planning Commission; however, the Board of Supervisors removed the Overlay District and changed other noise and flicker parameters before approving the final ordinance.
So far this year, they have recorded more than 2,800 raptors above Poor Mountain, which is along the migratory path that can take the birds all the way to South America. Raptors are threatened by turbines because they fly at such high elevations and tend to follow ridgelines when they migrate.
During question-and-answer and breakout sessions, citizens asked U.S. Forest Service staff to remove any proposed areas for wind energy development from the plan. Currently, the draft would allow applications for wind projects to be submitted on about one-half of the forest.
Sullivan found the agency failed to follow its own recovery plan and based its removal of the squirrel from the list on other criteria. The law requires such decisions to be based on recovery plans, which cannot be revised without public input.
HNWD was put on notice in May of 2010 that citizens intend to bring suit in federal court to seek compliance with the ESA if HNWD chooses to go forward without an ITP in the face of clear risk to endangered Indiana and Virginia big-eared bats. Construction was briefly initiated at the project site in late 2009.
Adding wind turbines to the obstacle course migratory birds face already creates one more challenge they do not need, naturalists with the American Bird Conservatory stated recently. ..."Most of those ridges in the east are used by migratory birds," said Mike Parr, a spokesman for the conservancy. "There are two main areas. One is used by raptors, hawks and related birds that migrate during the daytime."
The bulk of the Cool Cities Coalition talking points are based on "coal mining: bad; wind turbines: good." This rhetorical trick is the fallacy of false choice, as in "it's better to drink bleach than gasoline," while neglecting alternatives, such as drinking water, whisky or nothing at all. The coalition can't prove "wind turbines: good."
MGC attorney William S. Eubanks notified HNWD by letter that the company's wind energy project will "almost certainly result in unauthorized takes of Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats," in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The letter demands that HNWD obtain an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) or face either a USFWS enforcement action or a citizen suit by the above-named groups.
Concerned citizens and conservationists have joined with the Animal Welfare Institute and the public-interest law firm, Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal, to notify Highland New Wind Development, LLC and the Highland County Board of Supervisors of their intent to sue if HNWD proceeds with turbine construction in defiance of the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this year HNWD "promised" the county supervisors that it would obtain the required Incidental Take Permit (ITP). The notice letter can be downloaded by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
Industrial wind plants are the fastest growing form of alternative energy. They make electricity without producing greenhouse gases, but how truly green they are depends on where they are located. Some turbines out west routinely kill thousands of birds, and rare sagebrush grouse stand to lose their most important habitat to concrete grids of turbine pads. Along eastern mountain ridges beneath migratory flyways, more bats and songbirds are killed by turbines than anywhere else in the world.
Construction on the 38-megawatt wind utility planned for Allegheny Mountain has not resumed yet, according to Highland building official Jim Whitelaw. Whitelaw visited the project site this week for an inspection, and said no work is under way and the developer has not applied for its building permits. Highland New Wind Development LLC told county supervisors in January it intends to apply for a federal Incidental Take Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which requires creating a Habitat Conservation Plan to protect endangered species. According to Kim Smith, a USFWS biologist, the company should get such a permit. “In fact, in all of our letters (to HNWD) we have always said they should get one. We’ve been telling them to do this all along,” she said. A group of Highland citizens agrees. They have notified county supervisors three times that they intend to file legal action in federal court unless HNWD gets an ITP, and would hold the county board responsible if one is not obtained.
Wood Rogers PLC, the Roanoke law firm representing Highland Citizens, has advised the Highland County Board of Supervisors that allowing Highland New Wind Development to proceed without the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) required by the Endangered Species Act will place the county in legal jeopardy. The letter by Attorney James T. Rodier which details the supporting law can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
It was only a few years ago that habitat loss was front and center among causes for concern about the future well-being of the American ecological landscape. Not much has changed to allay this concern; sprawling development continues, and the alteration and loss of natural habitat is largely unchecked. What has changed is the focus of many mainstream environmental organizations. Concerns about the projected future effects of climate change have taken precedence over the immediate and observable effects of habitat loss.
Highland New Wind Development (HNWD), the self-touted "Greenest Wind Farm in the World," has initiated clearing, road work, and excavation for its 19-turbine project in the remote Allegheny Mountain, Laurel Fork area along the Highland County-Pocahontas County, Virginia-West Virginia border. ...The SCC has scheduled a hearing to be convened on September 23, 2009 to receive evidence and testimony from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) and HNWD concerning the wind energy developer's compliance with the SCC's December 2007 order
A month ago HNWD development made national news when its public relations firm announced that Virginia's first utility scale wind project was ready to start construction. As indicated here, that was a blatant misrepresentation. HNWD does not have a building permit, does not have an Erosion and Sediment Control permit, does not have approval from the FAA, has not satisfied the permit conditions imposed by the State Corporation Commission (SCC), and has not obtained an Endangered Species Act permit.
Below I offer clarification for Lars Hagen's March 20 letter, ("For some, wind farms in Virginia will never be OK"):
Wendy Perrone, executive director of the Three Rivers Avian Center in Brooks, W.Va., said Friday that she had not seen all the details about the project, but there are some concerns. "The mountain range is a migration route used for many decades and centuries....from butterflies to bats up to and including eagles," she said. Windmill projects have a potential for killing bats. Why this happens is not yet clear, Perrone said.