In an article published Aug. 3, (The Wind industry is doing all it can to protect birds and bats), Stu Webster of wind turbine developer Iberdrola Renewables shamefully attempts to legitimize the wind industry’s blanket extermination of bat populations across Pennsylvania.
When built on our forested ridge tops, wind turbines attract and kill bats by the tens of thousands. The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently issued a report that found:
o Bats are killed by a condition called barotrauma. Lights on turbines attract insects, which in turn attract bats which fly close to the blades, where they experience a rapid drop in air pressure, causing their lungs to burst.
o 420 wind turbines in Pennsylvania killed more than 10,000 bats last year – an average of 25 bats per turbine. This number is low because only about 30 percent of the carcasses under a turbine are recovered for counting.
o Bats are an extremely important Keystone species, as they control bug populations. As bat populations go down, bug populations go up and farmers must apply more pesticides. One bat will consume as many as 500 insects in one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects in one night. A colony of just 100 bats may consume a quarter of a million mosquitoes and other small insects in a night. If one turbine kills 25 bats in a year, that means one turbine accounted for about 17 million uneaten bugs in 2010.
o If bat populations are reduced, additional chemical pesticides will be dumped into our environment.
These facts are undisputable, yet wind developers persist in trying to build turbines in the middle of prime bat habitat where entire populations will be destroyed. The short-sighted callous disregard and irresponsibility shown by the wind industry is appalling.
Iberdrola’s sidekick, Gamesa, continues with its efforts to build 30 turbines on Shaffer Mountain in the middle of a maternity colony of the critically endangered Indiana bat. This maternity colony will be wiped out should the turbines go in. To show you just how Gamesa is “doing all it can to protect birds and bats,” they have applied for a permit with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to allow them to kill this endangered animal that is protected by the Endangered Species Act.
They are “so concerned” about the Indiana bat that they continue with their attempts to circumvent the Endangered Species Act so they can build turbines that will exterminate this maternity colony of a critically endangered species.
Voluntarily working with state agencies to monitor and study bat mortality from turbines does absolutely nothing to save critically impacted bat populations from decimation. While the Pennsylvania Game Commission requires bat surveys before and after turbines are built and wildlife authorities require mitigation efforts – bats still die.
The typical pattern in Pennsylvania has been for the developer to promise all sorts of mitigation efforts before construction. The Department of Environmental Protection grants permits, the project is built and horrendous bat mortality occurs in spite of the best mitigation efforts of the developer.
Once turbines are built, nothing effective can be done to stop the killing.
The wind industry lives in a world of taxpayer subsidies, government mandates, tax credits and regulatory preferences. It does not have to make money to survive.
Wind turbines generate only about 25 percent of the electricity claimed by developers. As a result, turbines built on the Allegheny Plateau, where winds are light and variable, are not economically viable. Sixty-five percent of the cost of a $3 million wind turbine is eventually paid by taxpayers because wind turbines cannot generate enough electricity to pay for themselves.
In addition, school districts in some of the poorest locales in Pennsylvania are denied tax dollars because wind turbines are exempt from paying school taxes. That’s right, the most expensive real estate in the county pays zero school taxes, while the burden is shifted to individual property owners, many of which are retired or on fixed incomes.
In times like these when school funding is being cut, federal and state governments and school districts are broke, and people are finding it harder to make ends meet – our tax dollars are being wasted to support an industry that can’t make it on its own. And when there are no more tax dollars to hand out, our government borrows, plunging our country deeper into debt to subsidize an industry that may be the greatest scam of our age.
In the end, if wind development is allowed to continue on our forested ridge tops, wasted tax dollars and millions of dead bats will be the least of our worries. Our children and grandchildren will be left the legacy of higher cancer and birth defect rates caused by the dumping of millions of tons of additional chemical pesticides into their environment – pesticides that will be required to produce the food they eat when bat populations are decimated.
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