Upon reading the account of the recent State Corporation Commission hearing (on industrial wind power), I was shocked to learn that Dr. Paul Kerlinger, a reportedly expert witness for Highland New Wind Development, testified that bald and golden eagles had no problem with wind turbine towers elsewhere in the United States.
It is a well known fact that windmills operated for 20 years in Altomont Pass, Calif. and killed more than 500 eagles, hawks, owls, and other raptors every year. He then makes the ludicrous statement, “that if some were killed, more acres of red spruce could be planted as a mitigation effort.” How does that mitigate the risk to our national symbol? As long as a blade spins on a wind tower there is no way that it can be assured that eagles will not be killed. The only feasible solution is to stop the blades from turning at any time. The fact that the bald eagle has been removed from the endangered list does not nullify the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which affords them additional legal protection. A recent inquiry to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service informs that penalties for violations of the act are up to $250,000 and/or up to two years imprisonment for a felony with fines doubled for an organization.
All the talk about monitoring and, “moving forward with mitigation risk,” as The Native Conservancy puts it, is farcical. What kind of conservancy is that? A meaningful monitoring system would require it to be a robust scientifically designed plan with continuous on-site day and night monitoring for the life of the project.
The rub is, who would be the monitor? Certainly not the developer. That would be like the fox guarding the hen house. Even if a verifiable, unbiased scientific system that took into account all the possible variables were designed and executed, what would happen if the environment consequences proved too dire to continue? Would the owner be held responsible for the consequences and be obligated to destroy the towers – or would they be allowed to mar everlastingly the sky line? The only type of monitoring that makes sense is to do it prior to construction of the towers. To do so after construction is a meaningless scam.
Let it be that for once conservation trumps corporation.
Orren L. Royal, M.D., M.S. (Biology)
Capt. (MC) USN (Ret.)
26 July 2007
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