Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from Pennsylvania

The industrialization of rural America

An objective analysis of windmills as even a partial solution to our energy needs just isn't cutting it. The numbers just don't add up. It maybe time to use the old adage, "Liars can figure, but figures don't lie". Obviously, the American Wind Energy Association is a powerful lobby taking us in a direction that will only result in that warm and fuzzy feeling, but our lights may not come on. From the Rocky Mountains to Texas to Maine people are finally beginning to question the logic and effectiveness of wind energy.
24 Aug 2007

Comparing apples to oranges

Comparing Allegheny Ridge to Shaffer Mountain is like comparing apples to oranges. And these differences are the reason Gamesa's industrialization of this section of Shaffer Mountain will be stopped. It's all about the siting. The siting of these industrial facilities, if not regulated soon, may well doom the ablility of industrial wind to reach its full potential. The people of the Commonwealth are not going to stand for the destruction of the last of our highest quality wild habitats, especially when we have hundreds of thousands of acres of reclaimed strip mines, with great wind, that have already been destroyed.
10 Aug 2007

PGC looks at animal mortality rates

Ed Jasulevicz had a point to prove when he donated the framed photograph he shot at Meadow Run Lake to the township in May. His point? Bald eagles are here. If anyone didn't believe him, he needs only to look at the 12-by-14-inch framed picture of a bald eagle sitting on the iced lake that now hangs in the municipal office. "Oh, they're here," Jasulevicz said later. "You'll see the eagles flying around by the water. We see lots of hawks by the lake." The controversy over the bird started brewing during township meetings months earlier. Some residents disputed eagles are anywhere near the township. Other residents debated wind farms and whether the turbines would harm eagles or other birds. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is wondering the same thing. The commission is set to hire a new employee who would investigate mortality rates in birds and bats caused by wind turbines.
1 Aug 2007

Shocking study in Shade watersheds

OGLE TOWNSHIP - Local conservation groups are working to document the health of a number of streams that face potential impact from both future wind turbine and mining projects...... Shortly after, the first of 192 fish was scooped out of the water, stunned by the electrical pulse emitted by Kagel's rig. Among the catch were 21 trout, some so small they were indicative of natural reproduction, said Reckner, the program director for the stream team. Finding that sections of Piney and Cub Run sustain the natural reproduction of trout species has led to them being classified as exceptional-value by the state.
17 Jul 2007

Watch out for ‘blind eye’ to threatened birds

Last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bald and golden eagles from the federal Endangered Species List. While eagle populations have grown in every state, we also learned last month that five species of common birds in Pennsylvania are declining at an alarming rate. According to Audubon Pennsylvania, the golden-winged warbler population has declined an astounding 98 percent since 1967, followed by the Eastern meadowlark (86 percent), wood thrush (62 percent), American bittern (59 percent) and ruffed grouse (22 percent). Three of the species depend on forest habitats, one lives in wetlands and the fifth resides in agricultural areas. Five different birds, three different habitats and they are all suffering. That's not good.
15 Jul 2007

Game commission to investigate mortality rates in birds, bats caused by wind turbines

The controversy over the bird started brewing during township meetings months earlier. Some residents disputed eagles are anywhere near the township. Other residents debated wind farms and whether the turbines would harm eagles or other birds. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is wondering the same thing. The commission is set to hire a new employee who would investigate mortality rates in birds and bats caused by wind turbines. Wind turbines in some areas have caused bat mortality rates to increase, said Tim Conway, the commission's Northeast Region information and education director.
9 Jul 2007

Save the mountain

Gamesa's guest column last week, written by their corporate spokesman, Michael Peck, is an example of spin, half-truths and out and out untruths that Gamesa has tried to use to promote its proposed Shaffer Mountain wind plant. Gamesa starts out by referring to those opposing the Shaffer Mountain wind plant as "anti-wind advocates." Nothing could be further from the truth.
29 Jun 2007

Wind is not free

How did Gamesa Corporation, a wind-energy company from Spain, find Shaffer Mountain, a small section of the Allegheny Front in Pennsylvania, which lies in Somerset and Bedford counties? Although we do not know all the details, we do know in 2004, that Gov. Rendell and Kathleen McGinty, secretary of Department of Environmental Protection, enticed Gamesa to abandon plans to build in Texas, by promising Gamesa that it would receive millions of dollars in grants, loans, and tax credits, financed with taxpayers' money. Federal income tax shelters will allow Gamesa to avoid paying taxes owed and thereby recover two-thirds of the capital cost of each turbine - about $2 million each. We also know that Gamesa has received tax-free status through 2018 by locating on land that is a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone. Even before Gamesa started construction in our state, the company had purchase agreements and letters of intent to sell 400 megawatts worth of wind-generated power to Pennsylvania utilities. But how did Gamesa find Shaffer Mountain? It's simple: Shaffer Mountain has wind.
25 Jun 2007

State nearing decision on wind-farm sites

State officials expect a decision in six months on whether to allow development of commercial wind-power facilities on state forest land. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has been considering the idea for several years. Legislative approval is needed to allow commercial windmills in any of the 20 state forest districts which cover more than 2 million acres. If DCNR and Rendell administration officials give the idea a green light, they would need to find a state lawmaker to sponsor enabling legislation.
2 Jun 2007

Scientists tracking endangered bats

Using a radio transmitter the size of a shelled pea, John Chenger is studying an endangered bat population that hibernates in an abandoned rail tunnel near the Allegheny Tunnel on the state Turnpike. On April 17, he and his associates at Bat Conservation and Management of Carlisle joined with Sanders Environmental Inc. Centre Hall to tag 15 Indiana bats as the came out of hibernation. "We're trying to figure out where they go," Chenger explained. "Do they go five miles? Do they go 300 miles? It just isn't very well understood at this point."
30 Apr 2007

PA Game Commission to hold public signing of wind energy voluntary agreements

Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe will sign cooperative, voluntary agreements with seven companies to avoid, minimize and potentially mitigate any adverse impacts the development of wind energy may have on the state's wildlife resources at a public signing ceremony at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, in the auditorium of the Game Commission's headquarters.
17 Apr 2007

Report: Wind farm safe for wild and plant life

The survey hasn't lessened the concerns of Rick Koval, of the Fish and Boat Commission's state Timber Rattlesnake Site Assessment and Inventory. Koval said there is a historical den site a mile away and another "robust" den area five miles away. Timber rattlesnakes have a range of five miles, and Koval has seen them three miles from the site. "Will there be an impact on timber rattlesnakes? It depends. If there is a gestation or den site nearby, the answer is yes," Koval said. Surveys for birds, bats, and rare and endangered plants have been completed. The bird and bat surveys, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, found the project would have no "biologically significant impacts" to birds, no eagles nest at the site and no federally endangered Indiana bats were located at the site. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources commissioned the rare and endangered plant survey, which concluded the project would not harm any of the plant species or ecological communities. Koval said the bird and bat surveys are inconclusive because there are rare or threatened species that exist nearby. He said there have not been surveys conducted of moth or invertebrate species, including several located at the site. "These wind farm projects are still new to the Eastern U.S. and there's a lot of unknowns," Koval said. "When you have seven miles of roads, transformers, power lines, tons of concrete and the turbines, there's going to be some impact. There needs to be more research during the appropriate seasons to determine how much impact."
13 Mar 2007

Residents work to stop windmills

NEW PARIS - Residents determined to stop the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm have issued a notice of intent to file suit with federal and state agencies over environmental concerns. The notices were mailed March 2 by environmental attorney Bradley Tupi who is with Tucker/Arensburg Attorneys, Pittsburgh, and is representing several families within the project area. "We're still in the information gathering stage, but my job is to do whatever I can to protect the interests of my clients out there," Tupi said. Among their concerns is that the project, which will run along the Allegheny Front of the mountain, will impact migrating bird populations including that of the endangered Bald Eagle and Eastern Golden Eagles, he said. Another potential issue is the possible damaging of the Ethel Creek spring head, which provides high-volume, high-quality water for a local fish hatchery, he said. The move gives the residents 30 days with state agencies and 60 days with federal agencies to file suit, he said.
10 Mar 2007

Wildlife specialists suggest ways to improve agreement

Two bird specialists familiar with the Pennsylvania Game Commission efforts to protect wildlife from wind turbines offered cautious support, although each found things they didn’t like. A bat specialist was more critical. Keith Bildstein, director of conservation science at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County, likes the draft agreement that would establish rules wind-energy developers would voluntarily follow. But he would prefer that the Game Commission impose an immediate moratorium on wind farms being built on high-risk sites, meaning places where wind turbines would be most dangerous to birds and bats. “We need to begin development of wind power at low-risk areas,” Bildstein said. “Do pre-construction and post-construction monitoring. Find the problems.”
28 Feb 2007

Rules could help protect birds, bats

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is on track with plans to create what it believes is the nation's first voluntary cooperative agreement with wind-energy developers to protect birds and bats. Wind-energy developers and outside wildlife advocates have prepared a draft agreement that would impose rules on the fast-growing industry before irreparable damage is done to bird and bat populations, said William A. Capouillez, director of the Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management, the Game Commission. "We have broad powers under Title 34," Capouillez said, referring to the 1987 law that authorizes and empowers the Game Commission. "I tell them: Would you rather have the voluntary agreement or Title 34? We could do zero tolerance on bird kills."
28 Feb 2007

Windplant problems

A Feb. 2 letter by windpower industry lobbyist Frank Maisano ignored two major problems that industrial windplants face in Pennsylvania: # Huge numbers of industrial-scale wind turbines will be needed to provide even a small fraction of the electricity we use (4,000 utility-scale turbines covering 500 miles of ridgeline to provide 10 percent of the commonwealth’s electricity). # Because Pennsylvania’s winds are relatively modest, industrial windfarms are being built mostly on forested ridgetops to capture the most powerful winds. In the Keystone State, these ridgetops are our last strongholds of unfragmented forests and the unique species there. Readers should be aware that Frank Maisano also was the spokesman for the Global Climate Coalition, a now-defunct umbrella group for companies opposed to the Kyoto treaty, and who dismissed the Kyoto Protocol as largely symbolic in nature.
19 Feb 2007

Golden eagles to get protection; researchers studying risks of windmills

Golden eagles have ridden the winds that whip across Pennsylvania’s Appalachian ridgetops for centuries, soaring northward to breeding grounds each spring and southward to hunting grounds each fall. Up until now, the eagles have encountered relatively few obstructions during their migrations across the state. But with energy companies scrambling to erect 400-foot windmills that convert those ridgetop winds into electricity, conservationists fear hundreds of eagles could be killed by a technology widely regarded as environmentally friendly. ‘Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley province plays an important role in the development of wind power and as a migratory corridor for eastern golden eagles,'’ said Dan Brauning, supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wildlife diversity section. ‘’That could mean the future of this small population of eagles hinges on our ability to make responsible and informed decisions concerning the development of wind farms.'’ Wind power is the world’s fastest-growing source of electricity. And with 153 megawatts of wind generation already in place — enough to power about 70,000 homes — Pennsylvania is the top wind power state east of the Mississippi. By 2020, state projections say Pennsylvania could be home to 3,000 megawatts of wind generation, which would require about 2,000 windmills statewide. The expected onslaught of wind farm development has state wildlife and environmental officials scrambling to develop regulations that ensure damage to birds and other wildlife is kept to a minimum. Currently, wind power developers are not required to conduct any wildlife-related studies, leaving regulation of the fast-growing industry largely to local zoning officials.
13 Feb 2007
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