Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from West Virginia
Workers atop mountain ridges are putting together 389-foot windmills with massive blades that will turn Appalachian breezes into energy. Retiree David Cowan is fighting to stop them. Because of the bats. ...It is the first court challenge to wind power under the Endangered Species Act, lawyers on both sides say. With President Obama's goal of doubling renewable energy production by 2012, wind and solar farms are rapidly expanding. As they do, battles are being waged to reach the right balance between the benefits of clean energy and the impact on birds, bats and even the water supply.
The federal lawsuit filed against Beech Ridge Energy and its parent corporation by Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and others will culminate with an evidentiary trial starting October 21st in Greenbelt, Maryland. ...Beech Ridge Energy concedes that approximately 135,000 bats could be killed during the twenty-year operation of the project. Despite this staggering figure, Beech Ridge Energy's staff have testified previously that Indiana bats were not likely to be killed by the project because pre-construction surveys did not establish presence of the species on the project site. However, the discovery process leading up to this October trial has exposed evidence to the contrary.
The Nature Conservancy released a report last month, "Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America." The conservancy pointed out that wind, solar and renewable energy sources require far more land than nuclear energy and coal. ...The term "energy sprawl" accurately describes the multiple trade-offs that face the nation. The American people need to think through what they are being urged to do.
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
Saying the Mineral County Commissioners "need more facts" in regard to the ongoing controversy over wind farms, Pamela Dodds and Judy O'Hara of the Allegheny Front Alliance spoke to the officials at length Tuesday in an attempt to debunk several claims being made by proponents of wind energy. "I believe you need some more facts in order to better understand the claims that are being made," Dodds said. "U.S. Wind Force has made sweeping claims that are inaccurate and misleading."
Environmental and animal rights groups want to stop further construction on a West Virginia wind farm, citing potential harm to the endangered Indiana bat. The Animal Welfare Institute and Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Friday in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
Wind Farm near Keyser is a favorable site for turbines based on wildlife considerations, according to extensive studies conducted by environmental consultants retained by the developer, US WindForce. That was the message from Monday night's meeting of the Community Advisory Panel, delivered by Jennie Henthorn of Henthron Environmental Consultants.
The governor's assertion in his State of the State address on Feb. 11 that "West Virginians know energy better than anyone" is belied by his woeful ignorance of wind power's limitations. He seems all too eager to sacrifice the glorious vistas of the Mountain State - as well as the tourism, recreation and vacation home building industries dependent on those unfettered, forested ridges - to posture himself as a forward-thinking, environmentally minded political leader. Instead what he has done is to have swallowed whole the baloney sandwich served up by the wind industry, and he now asks the Legislature to follow suit.
Wind turbines could continue to sprout along the state's Appalachian ridgetops, as state regulators approved a project on the Randolph/Barbour County border in November. The same company applied in December to build a project in Grant County, while another developer announced plans in January for a project near Keyser. Industry growth may be slowing, however, as the national economic recession dries up the investment capital needed to build new projects.
The AES New Creek application makes the seventh wind turbine project located on the WV Appalachian ridges to come before the Public Service Commission. As with all the other projects before the W.Va. PSC the citizens of West Virginia will not benefit from any of the electricity generated. The cumulative impact on the human and environmental ecology of our region will be catastrophic. ...Once again the natural resources of our state are being plundered for corporate gain and no amount of bail out money will be able to restore our beautiful ridges and tranquil woodlands, pastures, streams, cultural heritage and homes.
I had always favored building wind farms. The burden of coal mining-and particularly mountaintop removal coal mining-is so great that anything would be better. If wind farms diminish that then they are worth it. ...Now there is a new twist to the argument, something that makes thinking about wind power even more difficult. In the article that begins on page 14 of this issue, Ms. Collins argues that building more wind farms will not reduce the use of coal. She argues that because wind farms only make electricity when the wind blows, they are inefficient and unreliable. ...If it true that wind farms do not diminish the use of coal, then we do have some rethinking to do. If they do not replace any coal, then what is the point? Why should a single bat die, a single hiker be inconvenienced, a single tree be cut if wind power is not going to reduce the use of coal or some other source of electricity?
With final approval of a siting permit less than a week away, anti-windfarm activists are firing yet another round of legal salvos in their bid to stop the construction of 124 wind turbines slated for north-central Greenbrier County. State Public Service Commission hearings begin next Wednesday to determine if Beech Ridge Energy, owned by the Chicago-based company Invenergy, has complied with dozens of preconstruction terms that the PSC ordered when a conditional building permit was approved in 2007. ...Dave Buhrman said the Washington law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal has been hired to sue Beech Ridge over potential violations of the Endangered Species Act if construction goes forward.
Death, destruction and insomnia are marketed as "renewable electricity" to urban consumers. The federal production tax credit drives it all, with additional subsidies on national forest, where no property taxes are levied. ...We'd have to replace nearly every tree with a turbine to offset even a small amount of coal's impact, devastating the forest in the process. Without a national policy on energy conservation and efficiency, we're whistling in the wind anyway.
Marty has been studying the life cycle of the timber rattlesnake for 25 years. He regularly visits several dens that have been in existence on the Allegheny Front for thousands of years -- to check on the emergence of snakes in the spring. Marty had been concerned about the possible disruption of the snake dens by the construction of the Ned-Power Industrial Wind Turbines, but he was assured that the dens, located in rock piles, with crevasses going into the earth, would not be disturbed. When Marty returned to his study site this Spring, this is what he found: "It is finished. There is nothing left to save.
On May 8th 2007, eleven citizens' groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue regarding the company NedPower Mt. Storm, and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy. The Notice alleges violations of the Endangered Species Act, involving the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat. The Notice also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The citizens' groups are demanding that the industrial wind corporation apply for an incidental take permit, and modify or stop construction of this project, before irreparable harm is done to West Virginia's natural heritage.
The prospect of thousands of endangered bats flying to their deaths in West Virginia wind turbines soon could get consideration in federal court because of Judy Rodd. The 63-year-old is the president of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, which recently joined 10 other groups in filing a "notice of intent" with the Fish and Wildlife Service to sue a wind company on Endangered Species Act grounds. The organizations warned of potential turbine kills of the Indiana bat, Virginia big-eared bat and Virginia northern flying squirrel. "Yes, we're concerned about climate change," said Rodd in a phone interview. "But that doesn't mean they can't build the turbines somewhere else and let the bats live."
Eleven citizen and environmental groups in West Virginia and Maryland have filed a 60-day notice about their intent to sue a wind power project. They say the huge turbines from the NedPower Mount Storm project would kill endangered bats and squirrels near the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. The groups also will sue corporate owners Dominion Resources and Shell Wind Energy for violating the Endangered Species Act, according to Judy Rodd, director of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, based in Charleston. ...Landowners who live near the project also have filed a nuisance suit against NedPower citing concerns about their health and safety, as well as reductions in their property values.
Late last week, eleven citizens groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue NedPower Mt. Storm and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy for violations of the Endangered Species Act involving the "takes" of the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat. The letter, sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service, NedPower and the West Virginia Public Service Commission, also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Acts. The groups are demanding that the industrial wind corporation apply for an incidental take permit and modify or stop construction of this project before irreparable harm is done to West Virginia's natural heritage.
Freedom Works is planning the project to span the ridge line running along the border between Va. and West Va. The line runs from approximately five miles north of Woodstock to about five miles South of Mount Jackson, along the Western horizon. This would cover eighteen miles of ridgeline, in two states (Virginia and West Virginia), and three counties (Hardy in West Virginia, and Shenandoah and Rockingham in Virginia.) The timeline for the project runs from as short as a two-year, permit-gathering phase (followed by one to two years of construction) to a completion date as far off as the year 2040. When asked about a reported 2010 completion date for the project, Jim Smalls, district ranger for the Lee Ranger District within which the project is being planned, simply said, "I find that optimistic."
In AES' application to the Public Service Commission for a siting certificate, in the second volume page 5, they state, "there is a demonstrated need for additional generating capacity in the region as well as the PJM (grid managers) power markets which include West Virginia." Maybe AES isn't aware that West Virginia already exports 70 percent of the power produced in the state. We certainly don't need the power. West Virginia being a huge exporter of power has transmission lines running everywhere, providing wind developers easy access to the grid. With no real sitting regulations, no mass population to deal with, and armed with tax credits and incentives, both federal and state, once again West Virginia is ripe for exploitation. ...Hopefully our mountains and wind will always be here. Wind developers want to cram these wind turbines down our throats and act as if this is the only chance we'll ever have to take advantage of this so-called "wonderful opportunity."