Why are wind companies from Philadelphia and Spain targeting rural Pennsylvania for industrial development?
One of many projects is the Shaffer Mountain project, which includes an undeveloped, pristine mountain along the Allegheny front. It has wetlands and streams of the highest quality in the Commonwealth, including Piney Run and Clear Shade Creek. It serves as a home to threatened and endangered plant and animal species and is a major migration route every fall and spring for thousands of hawks, eagles and other raptors.
These raptors are to be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. However, this project will put turbines with blades turning close to 200 miles per hour at the tips, right in their flyway, posing a significant threat.
There is little question that the area Gamesa has chosen for construction of this industrial wind plant is the wrong area. This particular project will include 33 400-foot turbines. They will be placed on 1,000 ton concrete pads and will be connected by 17 miles of newly constructed industrial gravel roads, transmission trenches and drainage ditches. So why this area?
The answer is that our rural areas lack appropriate zoning requirements, leaving us a target for the companies. Communities are breaking down, neighbors are quarrelling and virgin land is destroyed. Companies are approaching landowners confidentially in order to get them to sign “leases” for turbines on their property. The landowner reaps great financial rewards per turbine, and in return Gamesa is permitted to erect the turbines and the industrial facilities that go with them on their property.
To even think that this can be accomplished without serious environmental damage serves as an extreme insult. There are appropriate places to place turbines, such as industrial areas and abandoned strip mines. Undeveloped ridge tops are not included in appropriate places. Apathy now will lead to regret later.
There will be an important citizens meeting at 7 p.m. June 12 at Shade High School. Further information can be found on www.shaffermountain.com.
8 June 2007
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