Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from West Virginia
An agreement was reached among all parties involved in federal litigation under the Endangered Species Act concerning the Beech Ridge wind project in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, that will provide for additional protection of the endangered Indiana bat and other wildlife while allowing some elements of the project to move forward.
A federal district court judge in Maryland placed a huge roadblock in the path of a planned industrial wind facility in northern Greenbrier County, saying construction of the wind turbines would violate the Endangered Species Act. Judge Roger W. Titus issued an order Tuesday afternoon granting an injunction, which halts the $300 million project in its tracks.
A federal court opinion filed Tuesday in Maryland blocks completion of the planned 119-turbine Beech Ridge Energy wind farm in Greenbrier County, and restricts the operation of the project's 40 already-built turbines to the hibernation period of an endangered bat species. The opinion, written by U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus in Greenbelt, Md., determined that Beech Ridge violated the terms of the Endangered Species Act.
A federal judge is expected to rule on a case that could change the course of a wind farm in Greenbrier County. The Animal Welfare Institute and Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy say the Beech Ridge wind energy project has the potential to harm the endangered Indiana bat and the groups are suing the developer, Invenergy, LLC, to stop the project.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wet Virginia field office, issued these comments regarding the Pinnacle wind power project proposed for ridgelines in Mineral County, WV. The comments pertain to the Habitat Characterization and Assessment of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species for the Pinnacle Wind Farm (BHE Environmental 2009a); the Avian Risk Assessment for the Pinnacle Wind Power Project (Kerlinger 2009); and the Bat Risk Assessment: Pinnacle Wind Farm (BHE Environmental 2009b). Excerpts of the letter are provided below. The full report can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.
Attorneys for the developers of a West Virginia wind farm questioned all but their last witness in a trial over whether the project will harm an endangered bat. The defense witnesses said Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt that netting has not captured any Indiana bats and disputed audio recordings that witnesses for the plaintiffs say show the endangered bats are at the site.
Workers atop mountain ridges are putting together 389-foot windmills with massive blades that will turn Appalachian breezes into energy. Retiree David Cowan is fighting to stop them. Because of the bats. ...It is the first court challenge to wind power under the Endangered Species Act, lawyers on both sides say. With President Obama's goal of doubling renewable energy production by 2012, wind and solar farms are rapidly expanding. As they do, battles are being waged to reach the right balance between the benefits of clean energy and the impact on birds, bats and even the water supply.
A proposed West Virginia wind power project will harm a tiny, endangered bat and its developers should be should be required to obtain permits under the Endangered Species Act, attorneys for two environmental groups argued Wednesday in federal court. The developers admit bats will be killed by the turbines, but refuse to acknowledge the endangered Indiana bat will be among them, plaintiffs attorney Eric Glitzenstein argued in his opening statements.
The 124-turbine wind farm being built by Rockville-based Beech Ridge Energy would put the lives of endangered Indiana bats, and other bat species, in danger, according to the plaintiffs -- The Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and David G. Cowan. Plaintiff's witness Michael Gannon, a bat biologist and professor at Pennsylvania State University, said he is "very much in favor" of wind energy, but remains concerned that this project could have a devastating effect on the Indiana bat.
The federal lawsuit filed against Beech Ridge Energy and its parent corporation by Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and others will culminate with an evidentiary trial starting October 21st in Greenbelt, Maryland. ...Beech Ridge Energy concedes that approximately 135,000 bats could be killed during the twenty-year operation of the project. Despite this staggering figure, Beech Ridge Energy's staff have testified previously that Indiana bats were not likely to be killed by the project because pre-construction surveys did not establish presence of the species on the project site. However, the discovery process leading up to this October trial has exposed evidence to the contrary.
The Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, and others submitted this pretrial brief and supporting reply briefs in their law suit opposing the Beech Ridge wind energy facility to be located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. These briefs show that the developer, Beech Ridge Energy LLC, discovered the presence of the federally endangered Indiana Bat at the project site but withheld this information from federal and state authorities. With this information hidden from public inspection, the project was granted a siting certificate from the West Virginia Public Service Commission to construct up to 124 wind turbines, each 390 feet tall, along a twenty-three mile stretch of land on forested Allegheny Mountain ridgelines. Construction commence in early 2009 but a subsequent injunction request was filed by the plaintiffs and granted pending the outcome of this law suit. The pre-trial brief and reply briefs by renown bat experts Drs. Lynn Robbins, Michael Gannon and Thomas Kunz can be accessed by clicking on the links below. The introduction to the reply brief is also posted below. The trial is scheduled from October 21 before the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
The Nature Conservancy released a report last month, "Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America." The conservancy pointed out that wind, solar and renewable energy sources require far more land than nuclear energy and coal. ...The term "energy sprawl" accurately describes the multiple trade-offs that face the nation. The American people need to think through what they are being urged to do.
Highland New Wind Development (HNWD), the self-touted "Greenest Wind Farm in the World," has initiated clearing, road work, and excavation for its 19-turbine project in the remote Allegheny Mountain, Laurel Fork area along the Highland County-Pocahontas County, Virginia-West Virginia border. ...The SCC has scheduled a hearing to be convened on September 23, 2009 to receive evidence and testimony from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) and HNWD concerning the wind energy developer's compliance with the SCC's December 2007 order
Saying the Mineral County Commissioners "need more facts" in regard to the ongoing controversy over wind farms, Pamela Dodds and Judy O'Hara of the Allegheny Front Alliance spoke to the officials at length Tuesday in an attempt to debunk several claims being made by proponents of wind energy. "I believe you need some more facts in order to better understand the claims that are being made," Dodds said. "U.S. Wind Force has made sweeping claims that are inaccurate and misleading."
Environmental and animal rights groups want to stop further construction on a West Virginia wind farm, citing potential harm to the endangered Indiana bat. The Animal Welfare Institute and Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Friday in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
The Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and David G. Cowan have filed a law suit against Beech Ridge Energy LLC and Invenergy Wind LLC under the federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). This filing seeks preliminary injunction to halt further construction, turbine erection, and operation of the Beech Ridge industrial wind power project. The plaintiffs argue that the project, if constructed, will result in the "likely killing, injury, and other forms of "take" of endangered Indiana bats in violation of the ESA." The wind project is proposed to be located on ridgelines in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
Wind Farm near Keyser is a favorable site for turbines based on wildlife considerations, according to extensive studies conducted by environmental consultants retained by the developer, US WindForce. That was the message from Monday night's meeting of the Community Advisory Panel, delivered by Jennie Henthorn of Henthron Environmental Consultants.
The governor's assertion in his State of the State address on Feb. 11 that "West Virginians know energy better than anyone" is belied by his woeful ignorance of wind power's limitations. He seems all too eager to sacrifice the glorious vistas of the Mountain State - as well as the tourism, recreation and vacation home building industries dependent on those unfettered, forested ridges - to posture himself as a forward-thinking, environmentally minded political leader. Instead what he has done is to have swallowed whole the baloney sandwich served up by the wind industry, and he now asks the Legislature to follow suit.
Wind turbines could continue to sprout along the state's Appalachian ridgetops, as state regulators approved a project on the Randolph/Barbour County border in November. The same company applied in December to build a project in Grant County, while another developer announced plans in January for a project near Keyser. Industry growth may be slowing, however, as the national economic recession dries up the investment capital needed to build new projects.
The AES New Creek application makes the seventh wind turbine project located on the WV Appalachian ridges to come before the Public Service Commission. As with all the other projects before the W.Va. PSC the citizens of West Virginia will not benefit from any of the electricity generated. The cumulative impact on the human and environmental ecology of our region will be catastrophic. ...Once again the natural resources of our state are being plundered for corporate gain and no amount of bail out money will be able to restore our beautiful ridges and tranquil woodlands, pastures, streams, cultural heritage and homes.