Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When Wind Energy Development Isn't Regulated - Birds Lose


An update on Black Swamp Bird Observatory's struggle to 
protect birds from poorly placed wind turbines in the 
critical migratory bird stopover habitat in northwest Ohio. 

You've all seen that play, right?  The runner has the ball, he's fighting off defenders like a mad man, dragging tacklers down the field, making forward progress in spite of the odds, and then...

WHAM!   

He gets clobbered by the one he didn't see coming.

The image below is the one we didn't see coming.
A large wind turbine ready to be installed at the 
Erie Business Park in Ottawa County, Ohio. 
Only a few miles from Magee Marsh.

Would that it were only a game. And when the play ended and the whistle blew, we could simply shake off the hit and return to real life. But it isn't a game. This is real life. The playing field is critical migratory bird habitat. The players are just ordinary people with an EXTRAordinary level of dedication to protecting bird habitat. And we are really feeling this latest hit. 

The turbine above is NOT the Camp Perry wind turbine that Black Swamp Bird Observatory has been fighting for months.  No, this is ANOTHER wind turbine that no one knew anything about. Not the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  Not the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).  They learned about it from us, and we heard about it from a private citizen who just happened to be in the area and noticed the massive structure lying on the ground. This turbine is in something called the Erie Business Park, just west of the Camp Perry facility.  DEEP in the heart of some of the most bird-sensitive habitat in northwest Ohio. In an area where there are more than 60 Bald Eagle nests. In an area where songbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl by the millions stop over in migration to rest and feed during their journey. In an area where you'd think it would be easy to protect birds, right? 

Wrong. 

Take a look at the size of the tower sections compared to the utility pole in the picture. This is not a small turbine.

Now take a look at the Erie Business Park's website, at the link called "The Future." If you look carefully at this stylized map, you'll see plans for SIX large wind turbines across the back of the property. Perhaps this is nothing more than a vision at this point.  But with one turbine already on site, they appear to be putting that vision into motion. 

And this is all we know. The person listed as the contact for the business park is not taking calls or returning messages, so no one knows anything more. 

And, in spite of BSBO's efforts to stop the Camp Perry turbine, in spite of all the official support for our position from state and national conservation organizations, after state and federal wildlife officials told Camp Perry that the project's Environmental Assessment (that they paid a lot of taxpayer money for) was riddled with inaccuracies, misleading statements, and erroneous findings, and Camp Perry ignored wildlife officials and issued their own "Finding of No Significant Impact.." we have heard nothing--no response at all--from the officials at Camp Perry about that project, either. 

We've contacted the local media and there's a story in the works.  We'll wait to see if it tells the real story or if we can just add it the pile of news stories that completely and utterly miss the point.

A bit about regulating wind energy development
Regulation of commercial-scale wind projects is complex and complicated. When a wind project exceeds 5 megawatts, the Ohio Power Siting Board has to review it. Most of these single turbines do not exceed that limit, so they stay under the radar in most cases.  Local level zoning and certain grants that require federal wildlife review are the only real "regulations" that stand in their way--even in the most bird sensitive areas. For the most part, there is no consideration of environmental impact on these single turbine application at all. They can literally go up without anyone knowing or reviewing the impact.  

The current USFWS guidelines for commercial wind energy development are VOLUNTARY - and they fail miserably to protect birds.  And, while the country's conservation organizations focus on commercial-scale wind development (and rightfully so), these single turbine projects are busting through any barriers that might have protected birds in these incredibly sensitive areas. Bottom line, if you string enough single turbines together you have a wind farm.  And commercial developers know it! 

We've already lost the battle to stop three large wind turbines at Oregon City Schools to the west of Magee Marsh. Two at one location and a third at another school. 


Two large turbines at
Eisenhower Middle School
near Maumee Bay State Park
Those turbines are up and operating--and not without continued controversy. Here's a quote from Debbie Paul, the external affairs manager for Toledo Edison about the issue with the Clay High School turbine. 

“The turbine that they have at Clay is huge – the largest of its kind on our system. It really needs to be on a wind farm. That’s what it was designed for – not for a distribution system. Either system could backfeed into the other when a generator over-commits and pushes energy back into the system. We have guys working on our system every minute of every hour of every day. To think a line is de-energized when it’s energized – that’s a huge safety risk on our part.”

Add the Oregon City School turbines to the ones at Camp Perry and Erie Business Park, and you start to see what birds are going to be up against before long. 

It is going to take citizen action to stop this. Birders who care have got to step up, band together, and speak out about this. As individuals, we can no longer sit on the sidelines and depend on wildlife officials to protect wildlife habitat.  They need our help. 

If you care about migratory bird habitat in northwest Ohio, then we urge you to let some of the "powers that be" know about it. 

Contact the Ottawa County Commissioners office and let them know that you expect Ottawa County to protect the habitat that migratory birds depend on for survival - or you will not spend your money in their County!  


Let Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur know how you feel about wind turbines threatening migratory bird stopover habitat in her District. 

Ohio Office
One Maritime Plaza - Sixth Floor
Toledo, OH 43604
(800) 964-4699 - Tel: (419) 259-7500
Fax: (419) 255-9623


Please, do what you can to educate yourself about wind energy development and speak up for the protection of wildlife habitat.  The voice of the people is the best hope for the future. 

7 comments:

  1. Oh Kim, this is breaking my heart. It's like a sucker punch to the gut, isn't it? After all the efforts we've been making to fight the Camp Perry turbine, to read about this is so disappointing.

    I'll get another round of letters out asap, and write another blog post about it in the next week, but what else can we do? What about organizing protests in front of these sites to draw more public attention to them? I'll come down from Michigan to participate in any event you can set up.

    Please keep up the good fight, my friend. We all know how hard this is for you and Kenn personally and professionally, and I just want you to know that your efforts to lead us in this fight are SO appreciated, whatever the outcome.

    Hugs,
    Kim Smith

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love to have you on the program to talk about this.

    Meanwhile thought you might enjoy our recent interview with Clive Hambler

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/windwise/2013/01/14/replay-of-clive-hambler-interview

    Thanks for all that you are doing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This made me feel really disappointed in the way humanity is headed. Why would anyone decide to construct a contraption that would cause so much destruction. I have already emailed all three county commissioners and have said that this will cause a loss of revenue due to the people coming and supporting local businesses through the Biggest Week. However, I still wonder, what will it do? People might just decide that the pros of putting in a wind turbine outweigh the economic impacts from not having as much revenue coming in from birders. However, we can still hope that that will not be the case. All we can do is do what we can and then hope people understand what they are doing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Ontario government recently gave permission to Nextera wind corporation to take down a Bald Eagle's nest to make way for a wind turbine project. Today, in response, the First Nations natives shut down 5 wind turbine sites. Read more at http://ontario-wind-resistance.org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. Your site is quite a find. I'm Penny and live in the Tehachapi Pass. I've finally reached the point of intolerace with the wind company, Terra-Gen, having a 30 year permit to kill California condors. A permit was also approved for Tejon Mountain Village by TMV, LLC to build "luxury homes" and can harass, maim and kill California condors. I can't answer why the scientists who brought them back from extinction, non profit environmental groups or other citizens haven't flooded the phones and sued U.S. Fish and Wildlife. It doesn't matter because stopping this is the responsibility of the people. It's going to take direct steps to end the mass slaughter of birds, bats and wildlife by us.

      Both my husband and I have seen condors. I reported the one I saw to Ventura FWS but it wasn't tagged. It wasn't until a letter from Center of Biological Diversity wrote a letter to Kern County in response to the Alta East eir that I was 100% sure of the sighting because less than 50% of the condors are fitted with telemetry equipment.

      In your quest to end this carnage, there are many allies. There are Senators who seek to end the trapping and dogs cruelly finishing off coyotes and other wildlife that farmers and ranchers consider to be pests. The Sacramento Bee ran a series of investigative articles in 2012 that can be found on their site. There are groups like Save the Eagles and a few of the environmental groups that haven't caved into the wind companies or took in money obliging them to support them. Conversely there are citizens like me who have zero tolerance. We've lived within 1.48 miles of the nearest 100+ turbines and surrounded on almost 3 sides. All of the birds are gone. I have feeders to attract them. Not a single owl, raptor or migratory songbird graces the sky anymore. One scrub jay, some sparrows and ravens, seasonal quail and a couple of road runners. This is a place where wildlife and birds should abound. I'm angry enough that the turbine propellers are killing our birds and bats to extinction that I want to participate in starting and participating with a focused group to force wind companies to either put grills over the blades or shut them down. No compromise. The other is for the transmission companies to reduce the height so that bird can't fly into them. Let's not let corporations steal from us.

      My core belief is that corporations have no right to have the highest position in society and control all the money, our governments and destroy our ability to survive by destroying our wildlands.

      I'll write again when I take my first step.

      Delete
  5. The birds and bats trully lose from Www.saveourseashore.org
    23
    MAY/13
    0
    Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Wind Turbine Impact
    Edit this post
    Dear Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary,

    We beg you to not consider a wind turbine at your Mass Audubon Wellfleet home! We have read of too many tragedies with birds and bats being killed with this machinery.

    Here are two

    1) Gull killer turbines are removed from the BBC

    An aquarium in Devon has taken down two wind turbines after seagulls were killed when they collided with the blades.

    2) Near Atlantic City NJ 5 industrial wind turbines were erected which are killing an average of 76 birds and bats per year per turbine(not the 1-2 that AWEA and US Fish and Wildlife publicize). This has been documented by the local Audubon society. Though to make sure not too information is known…they only study for 2 years after installation then after that….It is a shameful secret! These killed a Peregrine Falcon of which there are only 25 breeding pair in the entire state, also numerous Osprey, a Green Heron, a Dunlin and many others….is not worth it for these highly variable power producers which require full CO2 emitting backup and power shadowing. Money would be much better spent on conservation and efficiency…which have been shown to be ten times more cost effective thereby doing more for our planet

    http://www.ceoe.udel.edu/lewesturbine/documents/acua_quarterlyreport_fall09.pdf

    http://www.njcleanenergy.com/files/file/Renewable_Programs/Wind/ACUA_Interim%20Report_Jan-Sep08_all.pdf

    We all want to do our part for a better planet….but first don’t do more harm!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wind turbines at Altamont Pass kill an estimated
    880 to 1,300 birds of prey each year, including up to 116 golden eagles, 300 red-tailed hawks, 380
    burrowing owls, and additional hundreds of other raptors including kestrels, falcons, vultures, and
    other owl species. The APWRA is an ecological sink for golden eagles and other raptor species and
    may be having significant impacts on populations of birds that are rare and reproduce infrequently.
    http://www.goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/birds-at-risk/avian-mortality-at-altamont-pass/


    "Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks—as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont."

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/wind-energy-under-attack-for-thousands-of-wildlife-deaths/




    The project proposed by Wind Capital Group of St. Louis would erect 94 wind turbines on 8,400 acres that the Osage Nation says contains key eagle-nesting habitat and migratory routes. http://bdnews24.com/environment/2013/06/15/native-americans-decry-eagle-deaths

    st louis mayor's office:
    Phone: (314) 622-3201

    Hours:
    8 AM - 6 PM
    Monday through Friday

    Address:
    1200 Market , City Hall, Room 200
    St. Louis, Missouri 63103

    governor:

    facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jay-Nixon/6517667731

    governors twitter https://twitter.com/GovJayNixon

    ReplyDelete

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