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Wind farm opponents hire D.C. law firm; Activists continue to fight construction

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.

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.

On Monday, lawyers for Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, the leading voice against the $300 million windfarm, filed a motion to delay the compliance hearings based on, among other things, the resolution of a lawsuit the grassroots organization intends to file against Beech Ridge concerning the Endangered Species Act.

Another request to delay the compliance hearings filed by Alicia and Jeffrey Eisenbeiss, who live near one of the proposed wind turbine sites, was denied by the PSC last month. The Eisenbeiss' arguments were based on procedural rules used by the PSC.

MCRE spokesman Dave Buhrman said the Washington law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal has been hired to sue Beech... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

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.

On Monday, lawyers for Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, the leading voice against the $300 million windfarm, filed a motion to delay the compliance hearings based on, among other things, the resolution of a lawsuit the grassroots organization intends to file against Beech Ridge concerning the Endangered Species Act.

Another request to delay the compliance hearings filed by Alicia and Jeffrey Eisenbeiss, who live near one of the proposed wind turbine sites, was denied by the PSC last month. The Eisenbeiss' arguments were based on procedural rules used by the PSC.

MCRE spokesman 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.

"This action stems from Beech Ridge developers' own study that admits to eight caves containing endangered Indiana bats within 10 miles of the project and the risk assessment study that estimates 6,746 nonendangered bats of other species will be killed annually by proximity to the rotating turbine blades," Buhrman said.

A notice of intent to sue was sent to Beech Ridge by the Washington law firm this week. Lawyers for MCRE say Beech Ridge should file for a federal permit before an endangered bat is injured. The permit would also mandate that Beech Ridge provide protections for the bat's habitat.

Buhrman also said MCRE plans to challenge the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office for "their failure to adequately protect local communities from the impact of the adverse effects of this massive industrial project."

Although this issue and others were apparently put to rest by a 4-1 state Supreme Court decision earlier in the year denying MCRE's attempt to have the conditional permit reversed, Buhrman argued the historic preservation office has ignored "boxes of documentation" detailing historical and cultural locations that would be negatively affected by the wind turbines.

"SHPO is supposed to see that the negative impacts of such a huge project are mitigated," Buhrman said. "Then suddenly, SHPO signs a memorandum of agreement with Beech Ridge saying if $10,000 is donated to the Willliamsburg Historical Society, then it will all be OK."

Dave Groberg, Invenergy's director of business development, said Tuesday that Beech Ridge has complied with all of the preconstruction orders set down by the PSC and the issues raised about endangered bats has already been debated.

"Beech Ridge Energy believes that it has complied with the order entered in January 2007 and all of the conditions of that order, including environmental and historic surveys," Groberg said. "We conducted an historic survey of the area near the proposed facility that has been reviewed and approved by the state Historic Preservation Office.

"This is nothing new here. We have already filed a motion asking the PSC to deny the delay. The studies we have done and the conclusions reached about the Indiana bat suggests this endangered species won't be in the area and will not be harmed by the project."

Groberg said if the PSC rules favorably next week, the project will enter its construction phase next year.

"We are trying to build this project next year, and if the PSC agrees we have fully complied with their preconstruction orders, then we are going to start hiring 200 people to build this project and start making some clean energy."

The 186-megawatt windfarm is on track to be built along 23 miles of mountain ridgeways near Williamsburg owned primarily by MeadWestvaco and would provide enough electricity for 50,000 homes, officials said.


Source: http://www.register-herald....

OCT 9 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17416-wind-farm-opponents-hire-d-c-law-firm-activists-continue-to-fight-construction
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