Nextera gives a Nexus* card to anti-wind movement: fast tracks bird issues and shines a light on industry-wide bullying
OR “Nobody kills Eagles like Nextera”
(*Nexus: expedited passage through dedicated lanes at points of air travel.)
Billion dollar wind company, Nextera, sues activist Esther Wrightman, Kerwood, Ontario (Bornish project). Esther had the temerity to satirize the Nextera logo, using the term “Nexterror”, and also refused to remove a video depicting the brutal removal of an active eagles nest permitted literally “over the weekend.”
According to Jim Wiegand, a specialist in bird biology and wind turbine bird kills:
“Nobody has a history of killing eagles like the wind energy company Nextera. So if you were an eagle it would make perfect sense that their turbines would be terrifying. If you were an eagle minding your own business and had your wing severed from a slashing blade, knowing you were going to die, this would certainly seem like an act of terror. Thousands of eagles have died this way. If you had just fledged your offspring and while they were learning to hunt, had them butchered by nearby turbines, this would also seem to be terrifying. The charity that Nextera wants to donate any settlement funds to should come out and say they want no part in any of this. I think a better idea would be for Nextera to donate any settlement funds to a truly independent Wildlife Biologist, for proper wind turbine mortality and cumulative impact studies.”
Did Nextera anticipate the flurry of articles and media interest that has occurred by suing Rock Garden specialist, and anti-wind activist, Esther Wrightman? And what is the subtext to the 32 Billion (Market Capitalization) company (with numerous paid lobbyists), lawsuit that on the surface incorrectly mentions being called “terrorists” by the blogger, Wrightman, and an antipathy for satirical use of its logo? (Wrightman did not use the word terrorists, but merely changed the logo to “Nexterror,” which could be read as Terror, or Error. This satiric branding, in both shapes, it should be mentioned, has been used by many activists for some time now.
Wrightman’s claim to fame in Ontario is her tenacity, her vociferous and catchy, truly clever appearances at protests. Her video document of Nextera’s removal of an Eagle nest, with video clips of workers saying it was to be “destroyed” has gone viral. This same permit for removal came late on a Friday, with the odious work to be completed by Sunday. Ostensibly, this was an effort to remove public scrutiny from an already eagle death-tainted company. The removal of the nest got international attention, but the lawsuit is something of a gift to the movement, which is using the suit as an “educable moment,” and of course to respond to the long standing commitment to company profits over the environment that Nextera has shown. What many now see as the “face” of this wind company is flagrant bullying. It is certain that the parody of “terror” and wind will escalate now.
Bullying is now seen as pandemic by global groups fighting the onslaught of wind turbines, energy sprawl. A few examples of unreasonable and egregious behaviour follows:
- A man has threats of damage against his vehicle, upon entering a public comment meeting
- A woman is grabbed by two hired security officers and put out of a comment meeting because she was carrying a sign with a stick handle
- Landowners are lied to about neighbors having signed up, when indeed they had not
- Intimidation is reported widely re pressure to sign leases: people are told: “everyone in your community is in favor”
- Gag orders after buying out homeowners whose homes are too toxic to live in
- Wind developers enter a community, work against common principles of fair play, and knowingly, now knowingly, as has been unearthed by Freedom of Information documents variously, force giant industrial wind factories on sensitive environments, and disrupting property rights, and maiming, inflicting real blows on, gainful work and health
- Lobby governments, or collude, to get permits to kill, harm harass endangered species, at risk species, destroy habitat
- Create gigantic interfaces of Orwellian misinformation, creating confusion among all, permeating advertising, textbooks, and all manner of necessary and incidental purchases; adding this to hydro bills
- Creating a labyrinth of legal manoeuvers for beleaguered communities to jump through in the vague hopes of having permits upturned by the courts (for example, Ontario’s ERT process, Environmental Review Tribunal, hugely expensive, and communities only have 15 days to file following an approval. None have to date have stopped a project.)
- “Nextera has been excessively aggressive in getting people and municipalities to sign lease agreements and easements.” Just one of many large wind companies, but this one is the third largest in North America, operating vastly and easily across two nations (from Wrightman’s statement of defence)
- Badgering and threatening to run transmission lines and substations in places not viable for landowners who protest
- Donations of sums of money to local key agencies, hence another form of bribery or gag
- Various threats of legal actions, to persons and municipalities who are “in the way” of projects
(This list provides merely examples: please send us your experiences.)
The lawsuit being advanced in Canada, by Florida wind developer, Nextera, shines even more light on the company’s history of bird kills, bullying, and flagrant abuse of power. This suit, filed in a Toronto courthouse this past week, is against a homemaker and rock garden plant expert, a humble but formidable blogger against wind power, who had the temerity to satirize a billion dollar wind company.
Mitigation and a Licence to Kill
The Ontario lawsuit also focuses international attention on the history of a wind company that has touched on its own historical legal woes in California. We can only assume that the $2.5 million in mitigation fees were paid to the “Energy Commission’s Public Integrated Energy Research Program, and the East Bay Regional Park District and the Livermore Area Park District for raptor habitat creation,” is presumably a slap on the wrist for a company which in 2012 had operating revenues of 14 Billion.
The shocking and inaccurate documentation of Eagle and raptor kills at Altamont Pass, and elsewhere, is well known. “A 2004 California Energy Commission study found that the Altamont Pass turbines killed between 1,800 and 4,700 birds annually. Those fatalities included as many as 1,300 raptors such as hawks, falcons, owls and federally protected golden eagles.” But according to Wiegand, who has studied Eagles for over 44 years, “as shocking as these estimates are, searchers still missed many thousands of birds and bats each year and the latest studies have found far more wind turbine carcasses. My estimate is that with proper searches the fatalities at Altamont would be at least 2-3 times higher and the bat kill hundreds of times more than what has been reported.”
Following legal action, Nextera rejigged and has made plans to replace thousands of turbines. Next Era still owns about 2400 of the 5400 Altamont turbines. At a cost of about $350 Million, the company simply, as most see it, renewed its legacy as bird killers. (It is also established that the expensive modifications really have not impacted bird kills significantly.)
Certainly, as pointed out by several bird experts, the numbers of massive bird kills, vastly understated by USFWS and Ministries of Natural Resources, USA and Canada, would reflect on certain terror for those species whose numbers continue to plummet. There is no doubt that species such as the Whooping Crane, whose wide migration tangles with turbines and transmission sprawl, will become extinct. Predictions of the mortalities continue to escalate, and many have documented the countless maimed birds that die far from the count area. Numbers in the USA alone are now estimated at between 37 and 42 million per year. This appears to be an industry literally with a licence to ‘kill.’ Well documented now are the sometimes intensely personal accounts of bird mortality counters, and confessions of how the industry places count areas strategically to avoid finding too many dead birds and bats, and the history of burying or hiding birds in excess of allowed numbers.
US laws are firm on penalties for killing endangered Golden or Bald Eagles: a fine of up to $200,000 and/or up to 18 months in a federal prison. OR, Nextera and others, may apply for a new permit to harm, harass and kill, and receive that permit for up to 30 years. If this is a fair field for wildlife, Alice is down the Rabbit Hole again. Wiegand elucidates the misshapen truth: “The wind industry and FWS both use deceptive wind turbine eagle kill numbers. With voluntary regulations and no accountability, they routinely lie or give out half truths about eagle mortality. There is scientific proof that the eagle death toll is much higher than what the public is being told because the media primarily reports on the body counts given them by the FWS or wind industry. The recent AP story that reported 14 deaths at seven facilities in California , New Mexico , Oregon , and Washington State and Nevada , was not even close. Even the number dead golden eagles found at Altamont have an estimated mortality to be many times the actual body count because they know they do not find most of them. At Altamont over a 5 year period, 54 golden eagle carcasses were collected (10.8 per year) and the death toll to golden eagles was estimated to be 75-116 golden eagles per year. This is 7 to 10 times more dead eagles than the actual body count.” We are reminded, sadly, that take permits given out by FWS or MNR in Ontario, are not real: they are imagined and low. The real numbers of dead is not reflective of the “found dead.”
More Errors and Terrors
Esther Wrightman, again in her statement of defense, says, “Although Nextera claims … it has a complete understanding of the local environment, including wildlife,” the Defendant notes that Nextera has missed at least two active Bald Eagle nests in its assessments in the past year alone in Ontario.
The defence also references two videos, one showing the destruction of the Eagle’s nest, and the other quoting Tom Bird of Nextera saying, “The authorization we got from the Ministry of Natural Resources was to ‘destroy this nest’.” Despite the expert advice of an eagle biologist who strongly advocated against the removal of this particular nest, eighteen workers then descended with chainsaws, cranes and bulldozers and cut down an active nest.
Wrightman adds, “The Act of cutting down an American Bald Eagle nest would usually be illegal in Ontario. Nextera received a special exemption.” What must be pondered is how many special “permits and licences to harm, harass and kill” will Nextera receive in the future, as more projects ensue? Outrage in the US is already flying “fowl”, as Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-Rialto, wants to make life even easier for wind energy developers. “The bill would allow energy companies to obtain state permits to move – or “take” – birds, nests or eggs that are in the way of transmission line projects “to help achieve the state’s renewable energy goals.”
Nextera’s bird killing history, enshrined in memory in Altamont, CA, has extended the drama to Ontario, Canada, and elsewhere. But as Amy Linn points out, industry solutions, have become problems. Permits to kill, harm and harass are abhorrent, and not solutions. To Linn, there is blood on the answers of these solutions. (quoted by Robert Bradley in Master Resource)
Did Esther Wrightman effectively parody the company’s activities with the word, Terror? Has her satire stoked a fire? From her submission:
“The Defendant submits that Nextera has brought a state of fear, terror of invasion, worry, anxiety, and destruction to the community … people have fled their homes before and after their homes have been surrounded by the Plaintiff’s wind developments.”
Next Era has 9,000 turbines across North America, more than any other wind producer.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding