Gamesa’s Shaffer Mountain wind plant in Somerset County has drawn unprecedented opposition from thousands across Pennsylvania (“Somerset Wind Farm Proposal Generates a Tempest Over Birds,” Sept. 4). Consider these Shaffer Mountain facts:
It contains the highest-quality, intact habitat in Pennsylvania.
It has two exceptional value native brook trout streams – Piney Run and Clear Shade.
It has the heaviest raptor migration in eastern North America.
The endangered Indiana bat lives here – in the middle of Gamesa’s project area. Wind turbines are magnets for bats, killing thousands at wind plants in West Virginia and Meyersdale.
Gamesa wants to build 18 miles of 60-foot-wide rights of way on Shaffer Mountain. Thirty 404-foot-tall wind turbines turning at 200-plus mph will be built in the middle of the raptor migration route, fragmenting the best wild habitat left in Pennsylvania, when there is an 1,800-acre reclaimed surface mine one mile from the project site. That’s why people are mad.
Best management practices are not enough to protect Piney and Clear Shade if massive road building occurs on the steep fragile forest soils. They will be degraded.
Rare raptors will suffer, too. Audubon has collected migration data on Shaffer Mountain for the past nine years. Data is peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal. It documents great numbers of raptors using Shaffer Mountain. Gamesa ignores it.
Gamesa claims windows and cats kill more “birds” than do turbines (“Our Plans Will Reduce the Wind Project’s Impact on Wildlife,” Sept. 10 letter). We are not talking about “birds” – sparrows, robins – on Shaffer Mountain. We are talking about “raptors” – hawks, eagles, ospreys, falcons. When is the last time you saw an eagle run into a window or get caught by a cat? They eat cats. But they can’t avoid blades traveling 200 mph in their migration path.
There are no environmental laws that apply to wind plant construction in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Game and Fish commissions are powerless to stop or alter wind plant construction. Go to www.shaffermountain.com and click on “The Voluntary Agreement” to see why. The only line of defense in Pennsylvania is DEP, which is headed by the person who brought Gamesa to Pennsylvania. Politics or science? Thousands across Pennsylvania are waiting to see which it will be.
24 September 2007
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