Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from West Virginia
The current political wind is in favor of the developers and industrial wind energy interests, thereby significantly influencing the pressure on our natural environment. If the trend continues, how much of our national, state and private forests will remain when our fast expanding population will likely be desperate for a little breathing room in the future - 25, 50 and 100 years from today? I am well aware of the issues of global warming and the nation's energy requirements and am totally convinced that industrial wind energy projects on the ridge tops of the mountains in the Eastern United States is not the solution and unworthy of the billions of dollars that we are bestowing upon this industry. A major reason for the increasing opposition to the development of large industrial wind projects in the mountains is loss of visual amenity, the effects of highly visible vertical man-made structures with rotating blades located in predominantly horizontal, static natural hillscapes. The loss of beautiful scenery, favorite views and inspiring landscapes are objections dismissed by large corporate developers as emotional and subjective. ...In conclusion, the negative issues, problems and drawbacks of siting industrial wind turbines on the pristine mountains is not the answer our nation's need for energy sources. Why are we allowing them to infiltrate our ecologically fragile landscapes and cause huge negative impacts?
Proposals for wind farms in the Valley are whipping up opposing viewpoints about the structures' effects on wildlife, local vistas and energy production. Opponents say the turbines, each hundreds of feet tall, would mar the local landscape and endanger bats and birds, some of which are federally protected. But proponents say the farms can be built with minimum impact on the environment to offer clean, alternative energy and a break from the nation's dependency on foreign oil. ...After studying maps and coordinates provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, consultant D. Daniel Boone, a conservation biologist and policy analyst, said the FreedomWorks' project could negatively affect untouched areas of the George Washington National Forest. "Other than a power line and one small road which crosses between Hardy and Shenandoah counties, the project area is completely undisturbed forest with no sign of logging roads or clear-cuts," Boone stated.
One of my big concerns is that the publicity I see on television and in newspapers does not really reflect both sides of the issue. It makes the average viewer/reader who does not do his own investigation believe that there are no real problems other than that people don't want to look at them across our mountain tops. If the average person really understood the effects of the turbine installation and operation, there would be a lot more people objecting. Perhaps it sounds inappropriate for someone who lives in another county to be objecting to the turbines on Laurel Mountain. As the projects being proposed involve at least 8 counties, there will be a cumulative negative impact if they are approved.
When he received a reply from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about its correspondence with Liberty Gap, the information included a Nov. 16, 2007 letter from the agency to Wendy Tidhar of WEST, Inc. based in Cheyene, Wyo. WEST apparently represents an unnamed wind energy developer exploring a site on federal national forest property that would affect Pendleton and Hardy counties in West Virginia, and a portion of Rockingham County in Virginia. What the USFWS told Tidhar, says Thomas, is promising for those who have for years stressed the need to protect the environment, birds and bats in particular, from a potential proliferation of wind turbine towers along the Appalachian Front. The USFWS West Virginia Field Office told Tidhar, "We recommend that you consider alternative locations for this wind power facility because the proposed site is a high risk site, and wind power operations at this location pose a reasonable likelihood of take of species protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty, and Eagle Act."
The Liberty Gap wind energy project planned for the border of Pendleton and Highland counties did not get approval from West Virginia's Public Service Commission last year, but that doesn't mean the company is giving up. According to Pendleton County residents opposed to the project, the developer is moving ahead, attempting to get its application rewritten for a better chance of approval. The West Virginia Public Service Commission had noted several deficiencies in the company's application, including insufficient information on historic resources, site maps, and environmental protect. The grassroots effort to stop the Liberty Gap project was spearheaded by Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County, and according to one of its members, Larry Thomas, it cost $87,000 to challenge the company's application. But Liberty Gap has regrouped and learned from its mistakes, and the next round might cost opponents as much as $250,000.
Congressman Alan Mollohan sent an 11-page letter to the state Division of Energy officials last week, criticizing a new state plan for developing industrial wind power sites, primarily in the state's northeastern counties. State plans "entirely disregard the serious environmental concerns" raised by a number of critical studies prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said Mollohan, D-W.Va. Citing state marketing efforts touting the state's scenic vistas and calm pace, he asked, "How do rows of 400-foot-high industrial and wind turbines, spread out over thousands of acres of ridgelines, fit into that picture?" ...James Webb, a University of Virginia research scientist, recently found that the Mountaineer Project in Tucker County operated at only 9 percent of its capacity during the month of August. Webb calculated it would typically take nearly 3,000 huge wind turbines to match the power output of one conventional electric power plant.
My basic position on wind energy in our state is that before decisions are made on building industrial turbines across our mountain ridges, we should have a good idea of what the costs as well as the benefits of those projects will be to West Virginians, both now and in the future. There can be honest disagreements about what those costs and benefits will be, and how they should be weighed. But I hope no one would disagree with the proposition that the decisions to be made on wind turbines - which raise the prospect of permanently altering the face of our State - should be made in a fully informed, considered way. To that end, I believe the immediate need is for there to be a serious, public discussion of wind energy in this State. Members of the news media can play an important part in this discussion, but only to the extent that they report the facts, study the issues carefully, and issue thoughtful commentaries -- rather than merely publishing industry talking points.
Rep. Alan Mollohan is proving refreshingly thoughtful and farsighted on one of the emerging issues facing West Virginia - the pros and cons of wind power. He makes a persuasive case that the state should regulate its newest energy industry now. On Tuesday, the 1st District congressman told a congressional subcommittee he is very concerned about the impact wind farms could have on the wildlife and natural beauty of the state......Mollohan is right. It's time to slow this heavily subsidized stampede.
Appalachian states lack strong and detailed guidelines to regulate the continued growth of wind power facilities along the Mid-Atlantic highlands, according to a new study by the National Academy of Sciences. A team of academy experts concluded that wind power can help offset the greenhouse emissions caused by coal and other fossil-fuel energy sources, but the projected growth of wind power in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania creates potential threats to bird and bat populations that are not fully understood, the academy study found. Windmill "farms" also can cause other environmental problems and create legitimate aesthetic concerns for local communities - ranging from damage to scenic vistas to noise and "shadow flicker," a strobe-like effect created by rotating turbines, the report found. "The United States is in the early stages of learning how to plan for and regulate wind-energy facilities," says the report, compiled by the National Academy's National Research Council. The report said the cumulative effects of continued growth in wind power are unclear, and that further study is needed.
Washington, DC (HNN) -- U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-WV on Tuesday, May 1, 2007, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee on the impacts of wind turbines on birds and bats. Below is Mollohan's testimony:
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.
After being twice urged to do so by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Liberty Gap LLC has volunteered to seek a permit for the incidental “take” of endangered species. In doing so, the company has asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission not to consider its proposed wind energy project’s impacts on other wildlife. But PSC staff has urged the commission to deny that request.
Details and a registration form are available at the link below for the Wildlife and Wind Energy Conference to be held on Saturday, December 2, 2006 at Kutztown University in Kutztown, PA USA.
Some industry officials speak out against three-year pre-construction monitoring period.
LEWISBURG — One environmental concern over the proposed 124-turbine wind farm slated for northern Greenbrier County is the number of birds and bats killed each year by the blades of the nearly 400-foot-tall structures, but whether bats can put a halt to the $300 million project remains to be seen.
CUMBERLAND - Critics of the Nedpower wind farm project at Mount Storm in Grant County, W.Va., have alleged that the company is violating the federal Endangered Spe-cies Act as well as other environmental concerns. The company is the developer of a wind farm project that is expected to generate almost as much electricity as all the other wind farms in Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia combined.
The speakers were met with a bit of skepticism, however, as Commissioner Wayne Spiggle questioned them about their proposed relationship with existing industries and the possible environmental impact on winged creatures.
Thomas, W.Va. --- Towering up to 228 feet above the Appalachian Mountain ridge, windmills are lined up like marching aliens from "War of the Worlds." Up close, they emit a high-pitched electrical hum. From a distance of a few hundred yards, their 115-foot blades make a steady whooshing sound as their tips cut through the air at up to 140 mph.
"We need to anticipate all of the benefits as well as the consequences, and fashion policy on the front end," the 1st District Democrat said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
More than 700 Greenbrier County residents have sent letters to the state Public Service Commission, opposing a plan to build one of the largest wind-power projects east of the Mississippi River. The residents say the wind turbines will spoil mountain views, decrease property values, kill bats and birds, hurt tourism and ruin hunting and fishing in the area. They predict the wind turbines will catch fire during lightning strikes. And they say the turbines will interfere with emergency radio communications.