WindAction Editorials filed under Impact on Wildlife
This morning we woke to news from California that at least six golden eagles were slaughtered at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Pine Tree Wind Project in the Tehachapi Mountains. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating, but so far, no wind energy company has been prosecuted by federal wildlife authorities in connection with the death of birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Last summer, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NHSEC) voted unanimously to permit construction of the highly controversial Granite Reliable Wind Energy facility, a $275 million, 99-megawatt project proposed by Noble Environmental Power. The project is to be sited along three peaks in the State's northern-most Coos County.
Kevin Kawula distributed his letter below to environmental organizations throughout Wisconsin in hopes of raising awareness about the shockingly high bat mortality discovered at operating wind energy facilities in the State. Windaction.org shares Mr. Kawula's concerns and thought it appropriate to feature his letter in this week's Wind Alert!
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transmitted its final set of recommendations on how to minimize the impacts of land-based wind farms on wildlife and its habitat to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. In the press release that accompanied the document, the Service claimed the recommendations represented the consensus of "22 diverse members of the Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee".
Significant bat mortality at wind energy facilities first became widely known in the United States in 2003 when research scientists observed alarming numbers of bats killed at FPL Energy's Mountaineer wind energy plant in West Virginia. The forty-four turbine site located along the forested Backbone mountaintop was found to be slaughtering bats at annual rates of over 50 bats per turbine with some estimates placing the count at close to 100 bats. High mortality was also observed that year at the Meyersdale wind farm in Pennsylvania, another FPL project.
Windaction.org joined other environmental interest groups and individuals in submitting a sixty-day notice of federal law violations to the Department of Interior in connection with the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind energy facility. Laws cited include the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Since 2003, with the discovery of significant bat kills at the Mountaineer wind energy facility sited on a forested ridgeline in West Virginia, the wind industry has been battling the issue of how best to predict and site wind facilities to avoid, or minimize the problem. High bat mortality has since been reported at project sites worldwide, particularly involving migratory species, prompting concerns of cumulative effects on bat populations.
This week, Cleveland Plain Dealer bird blogger, Jim McCarty, wrote a delightful article on the successes of Audubon's Seabird Restoration Program in nurturing and tracking the return of rare seabirds to Maine's coastal areas. Mr. McCarty is obviously a bird enthusiast who has spent time researching and writing about the risks to migrating birds should a "string of colossal power-producing windmills" be erected in Lake Erie.
New Hampshire's Site Evaluation Committee is deliberating on Noble Environmental's proposal to erect a 99-megawatt wind energy facility in northern Coos County.
In September, the U.S. Forest Service released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the first wind energy project proposed for national forest lands.
The New York Times recently published "Thinking Anew About a Migratory Barrier: Roads" in which reporter Jim Robbins explores the impacts of road development on wildlife habitat at Glacier National Park in Montana.
Earlier this month, Supervisor David Parrish of the Idaho Fish and Game Department (IDF&G) was demoted after warning Southern Idaho's China Mountain wind energy facility would harm wildlife. His letter to the Times-News newspaper, written in response to an editorial published in the same paper, merely stated the 450 megawatt China Mountain facility, a project that will span 30,700 acres (including over 20,000 acres of public lands) in the Jarbidge Foothills "will have negative repercussions on Idaho's wildlife" and briefly explained why.
On July 10, George Wallace of the American Bird Conservancy provided testimony before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans where he stated “The wind industry is prepared to increase the number of turbines 30 fold over the next 20 years ... at the current estimated mortality rate, the wind industry will be killing 900,000 to 1.8 million birds per year. While this number is a relatively small percentage of the total number of birds estimated to live in North America, many of the bird species being killed are already declining for other reasons, and losses of more than a million birds per year would exacerbate these declines.”
National Audubon’s newly released position statement on wind energy development is short, sweet, and dangerous. Notable deficiencies in the Statement include:
New York's Maple Ridge wind energy facility (195 turbines) will slaughter up to 10,000 migratory birds and bats annually. The collision rate reported after the first fall season mortality survey were 34.12 targets per turbine or 6700 collisions, 72% of which are migrating bats (see: http://www.windaction.org/documents/8533 ). IWA estimates yearly collisions to rise to 10,000 after accounting for spring migration and other year-round migrants. Reports that cite the number of carcasses recovered are not representative of the number of birds and bats actually killed.