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Lawsuit threatened over Western MD wind farm

A group of Western Maryland residents and a state conservation group have filed formal notice they'll sue to stop construction of a wind farm in Garrett County, contending the massive turbines "almost certainly" will harm endangered bats in the forested, mountainous region.

A group of Western Maryland residents and a state conservation group have filed formal notice they'll sue to stop construction of a wind farm in Garrett County, contending the massive turbines "almost certainly" will harm endangered bats in the forested, mountainous region.

Save Western Maryland, a group of local residents opposed to wind farm projects in the county, announced Saturday that it had joined with the Maryland Conservation Council and "several concerned citizens" in a June 23 letter warning of the lawsuit to Constellation Green Green Energy LLC, and other businesses that have or have had a hand in the wind farm being built on Backbone Mountain south of Oakland. Constellation Green Energy is an offshoot of Baltimore-based Constellation Energy.

The groups contend the Eagle Rock project will violate the federal Endangered Species Act because the 28 turbines, each more than 400 feet high, would "almost certainly" kill or injure rare Indiana bats or Virginia big-eared bats, both protected by law.

The notice said a lawsuit would be filed within 60 days, unless Constellation obtains an "incidental take" permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for any... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A group of Western Maryland residents and a state conservation group have filed formal notice they'll sue to stop construction of a wind farm in Garrett County, contending the massive turbines "almost certainly" will harm endangered bats in the forested, mountainous region.

Save Western Maryland, a group of local residents opposed to wind farm projects in the county, announced Saturday that it had joined with the Maryland Conservation Council and "several concerned citizens" in a June 23 letter warning of the lawsuit to Constellation Green Green Energy LLC, and other businesses that have or have had a hand in the wind farm being built on Backbone Mountain south of Oakland. Constellation Green Energy is an offshoot of Baltimore-based Constellation Energy.

The groups contend the Eagle Rock project will violate the federal Endangered Species Act because the 28 turbines, each more than 400 feet high, would "almost certainly" kill or injure rare Indiana bats or Virginia big-eared bats, both protected by law.

The notice said a lawsuit would be filed within 60 days, unless Constellation obtains an "incidental take" permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for any protected bats its turbines might harm. Getting such a permit requires the applicant to prepare a "habitat conservation plan," which lays out steps taken to avoid or minimize harm to rare species, and possibly to mitigate their loss as well.

A federal judge temporarily halted construction of another wind farm in West Virginia, citing the project's potential impact on Indiana bats. The developer subsequently agreed to scale back the project and obtain an incidental take permit for Indiana bats in order to settle the case.

Garrett County is within the historic range of Indiana bats. A spokesperson for Constellation emailed a statement that even though the company believes the risk of impacting Indiana bats is "very remote," it's working with state and federal agencies to avoid any harm to the rare animals. "We are already voluntarily working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in connection with the 'incidental take' permit process," the statement said.

Constellation began construction earlier this year and expects to be finished by year's end. A second company, Synergics of Annapolis, also has approval to build a wind farm on the same mountain ridge.


Source: http://weblogs.baltimoresun...

JUL 3 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/27041-lawsuit-threatened-over-western-md-wind-farm
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