The natural heritage of rural Pennsylvania is threatened by unregulated wind development because, unlike other states, Pennsylvania has no state laws or regulations on wind farm siting.
In Pennsylvania, a wind developer need only obtain a pollution, erosion and sedimentation permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin construction.
Although DEP tries to protect water quality, there are no state laws to protect fish, wildlife, birds, bats or the few remaining unfragmented tracts of forest habitat from industrial wind overdevelopment.
As a result, wind developers are free to build their industrial plants anywhere the wind blows, including our remaining, and highest quality, wild places.
Scientific groups such as the National Academy of Sciences and the Pennsylvania Biological Survey have recognized the environmental and wildlife destruction potential of such development on wild forested ridge tops. Both groups have called for extensive independent environmental studies before construction of wind plants in these areas.
Pennsylvania has millions of acres of reclaimed strip mines, brown fields, fragmented and degraded forests and farm fields that are suitable for wind development. It makes no sense to allow our last, highest quality wild places to be destroyed by the many miles of industrial roads that go with wind development. Legislation is needed to “guide” wind developers to previously disturbed areas.
Siting legislation is to be introduced shortly. I think everyone agrees that wind power will be a part of our future. We must ensure that we do not solve one environmental problem by creating another.
Degrading our highest quality waters, fragmenting our last remaining intact forest habitats and killing rare and endangered wildlife is not justified by the relatively small amount of power that will be generated. The costs outweigh the benefits.
1 March 2008
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