Lawsuit to be filed to protect wildlife from NedPower industrial wind project near Dolly Sods Wilderness
On May 8th 2007, eleven citizens’ groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue regarding the company NedPower Mt. Storm, and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy. The Notice alleges violations of the Endangered Species Act, involving the West Virginia northern lying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat. The Notice also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The citizens’ groups are demanding that the industrial wind corporation apply for an incidental take permit, and modify or stop construction of this project, before irreparable harm is done to West Virginia’s natural heritage.
“NedPower has ignored the huge number of birds and bats that will be killed each year by the project, ignored the golden eagles that will be decapitated as they try to return to their winter homes near Mt. Storm Lake, and ignored threats to bald eagles that catch fish at the Lake” said Judy Rodd of Friends of Blackwater.
“NedPower is clearing acres of land in endangered lying squirrel habitat just a few miles north of the Dolly Sods Wilderness area. We believe that this project is in violation of federal law.”
Friends of Blackwater, Friends of the Allegheny Front, Friends of the Appalachian Highlands, Friends of Backbone Mountain, Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Laurel Mountain Preservation Association, the Maryland Alliance for Greenway Improvement and Conservation, the Maryland Conservation Council, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, and Stewards of the Potomac Highlands are challenging NedPower’s claim that the project will have no impact on these rare species.
The groups point out that researchers estimate that 4,000 bats were killed in one year at the Mountaineer Wind Project less than 14 miles away – and this killing continues. Dr. Thomas Kunz, bat expert from Boston University, has raised the alarm over the double threat to bats from industrial wind turbines and white nose syndrome in the national media.(see NPR Talk of the Nation 4/18/08). Dr. Kunz concludes that the NedPower project “is quite likely to result in the deaths of … bats from one or both of these endangered species.” His support letter is attached to the notice letter.
In addition to threats to endangered bats, the groups raise concerns that the NedPower project has already damaged the habitat of the West Virginia northern flying squirrel. A scientific analysis of the impacts of the project, written by WVU Professor Emeritus Robert Leo Smith, and also attached to the notice letter, states that the young of these endangered squirrels could be killed as land is cleared for roads, power lines and turbine pads.
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