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Wind turbines’ threat to bats

I just read an excellent piece by Deb Markowitz, “You can help to save endangered bats.” Bravo to her for shining some light on this important issue. If you haven’t seen the article, you need to know, due to white nose syndrome Vermont has already lost over 500,000 of these beneficial little creatures who, among other things, eat up to half their body weight each night in insects. Wildlife experts are rightfully concerned and have listed the little brown bat and northern long-eared bat on the endangered species list in Vermont.

I was surprised to see that Ms. Markowitz failed to mention one scientifically proven and critically important concern which will significantly affect the endangered bat population of Vermont. Industrial wind.

An example for you. In one six-week period the Mountaineer wind facility in West Virginia killed an estimated 1,364 to 1,980 bats, in two ways: first, barotrauma, which is when the lungs of bats are burst by the pressure change near the turbine blades, and second by simply being struck by blades that have tip speeds that reach up to 180 miles per hour. This is just one facility.

Ms. Markowitz also correctly mentioned the $32 million worth of economic value to the state of Vermont which bats provide by keeping crop damaging insects in check. To a state like Vermont, that’s big money.

Deb already knows that industrial wind is a serious issue for the endangered bats. She also knows that wind is a politically and industry-charged issue. This is a subject that she might not want to talk about. I can see why the topic was omitted in her article. The overriding fact is there are no less than 12 significant wind developments being eyed in Vermont right now. The impact on Vermont’s bat population will be severe. Deb not talking about the issue until the last developer has his project approved and subsidy money lined up is not an option. Deb’s actions need to be immediate, and they need to be precise.

In making her next move Deb Markowitz needs to ask herself, “What’s more important: the circle of life, or the ‘cycle’ of subsidy driven business?” I know what I want to hear from Deb Markowitz. “The circle of life! Yes to bats, and for so many reasons, no to wind turbines.”