In reply to Invenergy’s current promoter of Stony Creek energy project, Michael Mulcahey, and his unfounded attack (“Facts about Stony Creek Wind Farm misrepresented,” letter, Sept. 15) on “Selling out Orangeville?” (letter, Aug. 21) by Cathi Orr. Given that the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of the Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) were quoted verbatim …
There is a harvest moon this warm September evening just breaking the eastern horizon, Mr. Mulcahey, dusk has arrived and as I walk out into the seemingly never ending fields, hills and endless unencumbered evening skies … all I hear is the soft rustling of a pleasant breeze in the willows and the harmony of crickets, Canadian geese and the Orangeville nightlife … and no industrial wind turbines with their constant noise at decibel levels that the DEC guidelines on “noise” classify as “intolerable,” noise that drives people away from their homes, and farms.
In the minutes from the Aug. 12, 2010, Orangeville town meeting … it is recorded that I asked Supervisor (Susan) May how the Town Board as lead agency was going to deal with the inadequacies, missing data, and errors of Invenergy’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that had been mentioned by NYDEC, USFWS, and several other agencies. Supervisor May received these letters in April and May 2010, addressed to her at the Town Hall, but she replied: “Right now it is in the experts’ hands. The Town Board has not even seen any of this information yet. That is why we hired an engineer (Stantec ).” (Remember, Invenergy is paying Stantec and used this same engineer for the High Sheldon wind energy project).
You can find several federal and state agencies’ critiques and comments on the Orangeville DEIS at the Attica and Warsaw libraries, or check the CSOO website (www.csoo.info). These are also on file at the Orangeville Town Hall.
The Town Board of Orangeville as the lead agency in this industrial wind project should be interested to know what is in the DEIS prepared by Invenergy, and federal and state agency comments on the inadequacies of it. Wouldn’t Town Board officials find it very difficult to remain objective when their land leases with Invenergy might be in jeopardy if they didn’t help facilitate the industrial wind turbine project?
Orangeville is unique with its 14,500 acres of agriculture and forest which dominate the study area (USFWS). It contains some of the largest remaining blocks of forest habitat – 7,438 acres in total. Approximately 41 percent of the turbines would be built in forest habitat. Roads, buried electric cable, and turbine pad installation within forests can result in reduced habitat quality, smaller forest patch size, and changes in vegetation structure, etc.
So how could one figure that an industrial wind turbine project complete with all the negative impacts including Invenergy’s statement in the DEIS that 163 Orangeville residents would be subject to noise, shadow flicker, etc., be beneficial to the environment?
Industrial wind salesmen offer to give communities just pennies back of their own money, over 50 percent of the citizens’ own tax money goes to finance these wind projects. This money Invenergy talks about in the form of economic benefits is a trade-off for permission to destroy the very environment, they claim, they wish to save.
Mulcahey states, “Since operations ( Invenergy’s High Sheldon industrial wind turbine project) began more than a year ago, a vast majority of Sheldon residents have been extremely pleased with the results.”
I would then ask Mr, Mulcahey: “Would these be the same Sheldon residents that have signed approximately 70 industrial wind turbine land-lease contracts? And are these also the residents that have signed ‘good neighbor’ contracts (also known as gag, ‘shut-up,’ or confidentiality contracts)?”
Consider the actual wording of an Orangeville landowner contract with Invenergy: Owner shall not disclose the terms of this agreement to any parties other than its attorney or immediate family members (pg. 6, 9.1). Is this Invenergy and the Orangeville Town Board’s idea of transparency and ethical behavior? How much do you think your property will be worth if you try to sell it tied to these stipulations?
The contracted landowner also waives the right the right to sue.(“Owner also waives the right to institute summary proceedings in connection with this agreement including any action pursuant to New York Property Action and Proceedings. Law Article 7.”)
And lastly, we the Orangeville residents will not rest assured that Invenergy is concerned about the environment based on past example. One such example is the 45,000 tons of slag that was ordered by Invenergy from the 100-year-old federal brownfield cleanup operation on the grounds of the former Bethlehem Steel plant site (“Sheldon News,” Nov. 18, 2008, vol.1, by Councilman Glenn Cramer). This slag is what remains from over 100 years of industrial steel production and pollution. Pockets of contamination can and do exist there. This “iron slag” was hauled into Sheldon and subsequently dumped on Invenergy leased land, on agricultural fields of Sheldon, at depths of 4 feet deep and 32 feet wide. This done despite the fact that the Sheldon DEIS called for stone fill.
In a letter dated Sept. 13, 2008, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets responded to an inquiry by the High Sheldon Wind Farm in regards to the use of “iron slag” on nearly 20 miles of new (access) roads needed for the new wind project. “It appears that the use of this industrial by-product may be acceptable as “structural fill’ in an urban or industrial setting, however, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets does not support the use of any adulterated industrial by-product material (such as steel slag) as road base on, or adjacent to, agricultural lands used for the production of food and/or forage crops.” This letter goes on to explain the reasons behind their position. (A copy can be found at the Sheldon Town Hall.)
The Sheldon residents will now be stuck with the future consequences of that nasty decision. Can Invenergy be trusted not to use this “slag” on Orangeville agricultural fields in light of their questionable tactics?
Therefore, Invenergy, when Orangeville municipal officers put their personal financial agenda and business dealings with a multinational million-dollar corporation, before the health, safety and welfare of the people of Orangeville, forming zoning laws that facilitate this very same business project that is located in Orangeville, that is what I, in my opinion, call the “selling out of Orangeville.”
Cathi Orr is founder of the Clear Skies Over Orangeville Rural Preservation Coalition.
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