Friends of Maine’s Mountains challenges Maine Audubon’s report that fails to protect Maine’s wildlife from industrial wind turbines
December 12, 2013 Weld, Maine – Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM), is calling upon the Maine Audubon (MAS) to retract the findings of their recently published report attempting to validate the compatibility of wind power and Maine’s wildlife populations and their habitats.
FMM recognizes that the MAS has always held itself to a high standard and has been at the forefront of wildlife advocacy in Maine, but this report clearly falls short of that tradition and is troubling in it’s implications for Maine’s environment.
According to FMM, the report, Wind Power & Wildlife in Maine, is deficient in the necessary scientific rigor required to conclude that industrial wind turbines are not detrimental to Maine’s wildlife and their habitats. Specifically, the report’s turbine siting criteria are one-sided and clearly favor the wind developers.
FMM encourages MAS to reconcile the large sums of corporate funding they receive annually from the wind industry and to disclose if those donors had any influence on their findings.
At the December 4th Falmouth presentation, MAS disclosed that the report did not rely on fieldwork or empirical data to determine mortality rates of birds and bats from turbine collisions. Surprisingly, they did not include any evaluation of mortality rates for migratory birds.
FMM sees these deficiencies as major red flags that clearly undermine the validity and conclusions of the report. Moreover, nowhere in the MAS report is there a quantification of presumed benefits from wind power. No valid impact/benefit analysis can occur without quantification.
Rand Stowell, FMM Founder and Chairman said “The MAS report is troubling and should be withdrawn and re-evaluated. The MAS has an ethical and moral obligation to their members, the people of Maine, and the wildlife they were founded to protect. The conclusions presented to the public in this report are not in keeping with that mandate. MAS needs to rethink its position, open it up to a higher standard of scientific review, and get it right.”
Dr. Rebecca Holberton, Professor of Biology and Ecology at the University of Maine – Orono, an extensively published researcher in the field of bird migration for over a quarter of a century, agreed with FMM’s position on this report:
“FMM’s concerns are at the heart of the weaknesses of the MAS report. The report is not a report of actual findings but is a hypothetical model or hypothesis that would need to be tested and confirmed empirically before anyone could accept its validity. It is troubling that, although the report is replete with disclaimers and acknowledged weakness by the authors themselves regarding the types of information that went into the work and the limitations of any conclusions stemming from it, it has been confidently presented to the public as a tool that would reliably serve as guidelines for siting land-based wind energy development. I’m not aware that during any stage of the project’s development that any effort was made by MAS to bring in biologists from academia, as well as state and federal wildlife agencies for input.
“The leadership of MAS is well-aware of the extensive research in the region on bird and bat migration, having recently hosted an extensive public talk on the topic by me and my colleagues just a few months ago. There is nothing in this document that addresses collision risk taking into account new studies that show that wind energy development may be having a greater impact on birds than previously thought and that higher turbines result in greater collisions. Further, although the main approach in the MAS model focuses solely on habitat characteristics on the ground, there are no studies showing that on the ground habitat characteristics have anything to do with the spatial densities of birds aloft during migration. Regardless of the motivation behind MAS’s decision to produce these purported guidelines without seeking knowledgeable resources for input and comment, some may consider it, at best, a catalyst for improving how we approach spatial mapping of wildlife risk, and at worst, a poorly-developed model to be misused by those looking for an open endorsement for wind energy development in the state without being made to consider the true viability of alternative energy sources. How we balance the different ways we impact the environment should be based on factual information, which, when used properly, should lead all folks with different perspectives to the same conclusions. The MAS report fails miserably in that regard.”
FMM contends that through a proper investigation, the effects of wildlife degradation caused by wind turbines could be determined. Michael Bond, a member of FMM’s Board of Directors and a nationally recognized author on environmental issues added, “The wind industry in Maine is being given a free pass. MAS needs to reevaluate their association with industrial wind and work with the experts in the field to provide us with an unbiased picture of the impact of industrial wind on our environment.”
FMM also sees the report as an attempt to gloss over what many believe is the untold story of wind power in Maine. Richard McDonald, another FMM Board member is concerned that, “The ratepayers are also an endangered species. The impact of wind power on our pocketbooks should make us all question its value. Wind hasn’t reduced our energy costs and it hasn’t replaced a single fossil fuel powered generation plant. In fact, Maine already produces almost 50% of its power from renewables which exceeds the goal set by former Governor Baldacci’s 2008 Task Force on Wind. So why is MAS so willing to go along with the wind industry?”
In addition, Mainers need to know if MAS agrees with the National Audubon Society’s (NAS) emphatic challenge to the recently released U.S. Department of the Interior’s proposed rule change. The proposed change would give wind energy developers a 30 year exemption from criminal prosecution for killing Bald Eagles and other migratory birds at their wind farms.
NAS President and CEO David Yarnold offered the following response to Interior’s new rule: “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check. It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the Bald Eagle.”
FMM is asking MAS if it is prepared to lend its voice to this call, withdraw its report and take a stand against any further damage to Maine’s wildlife by industrial wind.
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Friends of Maine’s Mountains is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and educational organizational whose mission is to research, formulate and promote effective and reliable energy and power solutions that will protect Maine’s natural resources (especially Maine’s mountains), as well as Maine’s industries and private property owners, while also ensuring that those solutions have a positive environmental and economic impact for Maine people and businesses.
Friends of Maine’s Mountains
PO Box 60
Weld, ME 04285
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