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Resource Documents: U.S. (131 items)

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Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.


Date added:  January 28, 2017
U.S., WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Effects of wind energy generation and white-nose syndrome on the viability of the Indiana bat

Author:  Erickson, Richard; Thogmartin, Wayne; Diffendorfer, Jay; Russell, Robin; Szymanski, Jennifer

ABSTRACT: Wind energy generation holds the potential to adversely affect wildlife populations. Species-wide effects are difficult to study and few, if any, studies examine effects of wind energy generation on any species across its entire range. One species that may be affected by wind energy generation is the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), which is found in the eastern and midwestern United States. In addition to mortality from wind energy generation, the species also faces range-wide threats from the emerging infectious fungal disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS). White-nose syndrome, caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans, disturbs hibernating bats leading to high levels of mortality. We used a spatially explicit full-annual-cycle model to investigate how wind turbine mortality and WNS may singly and then together affect population dynamics of this species. In the simulation, wind turbine mortality impacted the metapopulation dynamics of the species by causing extirpation of some of the smaller winter colonies. In general, effects of wind turbines were localized and focused on specific spatial subpopulations. Conversely, WNS had a depressive effect on the species across its range. Wind turbine mortality interacted with WNS and together these stressors had a larger impact than would be expected from either alone, principally because these stressors together act to reduce species abundance across the spectrum of population sizes. Our findings illustrate the importance of not only prioritizing the protection of large winter colonies as is currently done, but also of protecting metapopulation dynamics and migratory connectivity.

Richard A. Erickson, Wayne E. Thogmartin, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, United States Geological Survey, La Crosse, WI, United States
Jay E. Diffendorfer, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Denver,
CO, United States

Robin E. Russell, National Wildlife Health Center, United States Geological Survey, Madison, WI, United States
Jennifer A. Szymanski, Division of Endangered Species, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Onalaska, WI, United States

Published 22 December 2016: PeerJ 4:e2830; DOI 10.7717/peerj.2830

Download original document: “Effects of wind energy generation and white-nose syndrome on the viability of the Indiana bat”

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Date added:  January 11, 2017
North Dakota, TechnologyPrint storyE-mail story

Construction of Xcel Energy’s Courtenay Wind Farm, North Dakota

Author:  Xcel Energy


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Date added:  October 27, 2016
Environment, U.S., WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

This Land Was Your Land: A Closer Look at 80 by 50

Author:  Bryce, Robert

Politicians from federal to local levels have joined in a pledge known as 80 by 50, an effort to cut carbon-dioxide emissions 80% by 2050. The pledges are long on fanfare but short on details. There is, however, a published literature that determines how to achieve so-called deep carbonization, and it involves a massive increase of renewable-energy sources, primarily wind and solar.

This report analyzes the extraordinary amount of land that would be needed to achieve 80 by 50 through wind and solar, the amount of additional high-voltage transmission capacity, and the growing resistance to local wind-energy projects. It also looks at what all this means for the populations of birds and bats, including endangered species.

Key Findings

Download original document: “This Land Was Your Land: A Closer Look at 80 by 50”

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Date added:  October 1, 2016
Environment, Law, Washington, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Reply Brief of Petitioners Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Save Our Scenic Area v. Bonneville Power Administration

Author:  Friends of the Columbia Gorge

To try to justify its violations of NEPA (including a failure to consider any alternatives besides the Applicant’s proposal and a failure to take a hard look at the Project’s environmental impacts), BPA leans upon the slender reed of lacking direct siting authority over the Project’s wind turbines. But the inescapable reality is that BPA evaluated the proposed wind turbines and the requested interconnection to its power grid together as components of the single action alternative in the FEIS. Moreover, BPA has conceded that if it were to deny the interconnection the turbines would not be built. Accordingly, BPA was required to comply fully with NEPA to inform its decision whether to approve or deny the interconnection.

Ultimately, BPA has authority to say “no”—to the interconnection, and thereby to the entire Project—and NEPA requires it to make an informed decision and thus potentially avoid or minimize harm to the environment. BPA’s litigation position posits an alternative reality in which the agency did not evaluate the wind turbines and interconnection together as a single action, and did not admit that the interconnection is a necessary element of the Project without which the wind turbines cannot be built. The analyses adopted in the FEIS—not the agency’s current litigation position—must be the focus of this Court’s review.

BPA’s arguments rely almost entirely on cases in which federal actions were completely distinct from non-federal actions—rather than intertwined, as the proposed wind turbines and interconnection are here—and on knocking down straw-man arguments that Friends does not make. The fact that BPA can cite no case where a court upheld an EIS that considered only a single action alternative involving several undefined variables underscores the unprecedented way BPA evaded NEPA’s express requirements.

Although BPA may “believe[] that the Project will be implemented in an environmentally responsible manner,” it failed to follow the procedures NEPA requires to draw an informed conclusion about likely harm from the proposed Project as compared to reasonable alternatives. BPA asks this Court to condone a NEPA analysis that in essence evaluated only a single, worst-case alternative and that lacked any evaluation whether the proposed mitigation measures could effectively reduce or eliminate harm.

Where an agency could prevent environmental harm, as BPA could do here by denying the requested interconnection, NEPA and this Court’s precedents require the agency’s decision to be fully informed and to include a complete understanding of the effects of reasonable alternatives—even alternatives not within BPA’s jurisdiction. An evaluation showing that changes to the number, locations, capacities, heights, or other details of the proposed wind turbines would cause significantly less harm to birds, bats, or scenic values might have led BPA to deny the requested interconnection. BPA’s uninformed decision violates NEPA and its procedures for ensuring informed, democratic decisionmaking.

Sept. 26, 2016, Docket No. 15-72788, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Download original document: “Reply Brief of Petitioners Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Save Our Scenic Area v. Bonneville Power Administration”

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