Wind energy Environmental Impact Statement is actually needed to mitigate the threat to industrial wind’s life
Under the banner of the American Bird Conservancy, some seventy organizations joined to request that Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell “develop a Programmatic Wind Environmental Impact Statement to identify appropriate areas for wind energy development as well as areas where new projects should be avoided to conserve wildlife and sensitive habitats.”
The letter  notes studies which “have documented significant losses of birds and bats, including threatened, endangered and other protected species (an estimated 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats annually at 2012 build-out levels). The number of birds taken annually by wind energy facilities could exceed 1.4 million by 2030 if there is no change in US policy towards wind energy development.”
The signatory groups “are supportive of renewable energy as a way to address anthropogenic climate change, but only if it addresses wildlife and habitat impacts. In particular, this means appropriate pre-construction assessments of risk leading to proper siting, post-construction mitigation and independent monitoring of fatalities, and compensation if and when public trust resources are being taken.”
The letter states that, “when it comes to wind energy, siting is everything” and the groups “believe that much of this conflict could be averted by a National Wind Energy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which would determine where wind energy should be developed and where it should not.”
This letter is being distributed widely. My copy arrived via the Allegheny Highlands Alliance , “an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to protecting the mountain resources of the Allegheny Highlands.” I elected to respond to several members of that organization with these comments:
The title of the recent forwarded email is “Wind Energy EIS Needed to Mitigate Threat to Wildlife.” In truth, the title should note that this requested action, as with similar past accommodations, is actually needed to mitigate the threat to industrial wind’s life.
In my opinion, this is another failed good intention which only serves to enable wind’s march to the sea and while the letter states that the policy is only for public land, the wind buzzards will use the resulting policy as an example of American Bird Conservancy and the other 70 or so groups’ support for “well-placed” projects.
The American Bird Conservancy has, in writing this letter, has once again validated the absurd notion that industrial wind is a solution to climate change. Do they not realize, or care, that AWEA will use this acknowledgement to push for legislative and policy accommodations for privately based projects which are equally damaging and, worse, as another sales point for the PTC. In a master stroke, the American Bird Congress also allows for killing and destruction as long as someone is compensated. Really?
The letter states that “When it comes to wind energy, siting is everything.” This is an incredibly stupid statement and hands the keys to industrial wind. We have seen in the past that when the prime wind lands are consumed, the second and third tier wind lanes become targets in order that industrial wind can save us from an overheating planet. There is not enough land in America, let alone “appropriate areas” to place the number of wind turbines required to meet the current arbitrary, politically established goals even if wind actually had a positive impact on emissions. The only goals to be met by the current rate of industrial wind’s expansion will be the financial ones which benefit the wind profiteers.
I personally do not support this effort and think it is long past time that environmental groups challenge industrial wind on its merit. Actions like this suggest that there is a benefit to be derived from industrial wind which is worth the sacrifice demanded of our environment.
This is just another diversion taking the focus off the base issue with industrial wind – it will never provide adequate on-demand, reliable and cost competitive electricity – ever!
With each such maneuver, the wind business grows stronger and the environment/habitat/wildlife suffering increases. It’s time to stop supporting this nonsense. I’m glad our group did not sign on to the ABC’s letter.
I wish the other groups had not.
This is not an attack on the American Bird Conservancy or the groups who elected to sign on to this letter. I take exception to the tactic, not the efforts of the individuals.
But I’ve witnessed first hand the ineffectiveness of “reining in” the wind profiteers by citing noise/health concerns – lawsuits currently pending  and bird/bat protection – WV Department of Natural Resources  and US Fish and Wildlife concerns ignored .
In 2011, the American Bird Conservancy petitioned the same U.S. Department of the Interior to “replace its proposed voluntary guidelines for siting and operating wind farms with mandatory enforceable  standards designed to make the technology safer for wildlife including migrating birds and bats.” And the result of the 100 page petition? “On March 23, 2012, the United States Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service released their Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines , a voluntary approach  to minimize the impacts on wildlife and their habitat, when siting a wind turbine.”
At the risk of sounding harsh, these gestures seem little more than the war’s defeated negotiating terms of surrender when, in reality, the industrial wind profiteers should be made to justify their existence. With tens of thousands of turbines placed in the United States and easily hundreds of thousands more to be placed until the business falls under its own weight, the onus is on industrial wind to prove its worth.
Environmental groups must first understand the functional failure of industrial wind and focus on that issue alone. For once it is clear that the sacrifice demanded is not worth the benefit derived, the turbines will come tumbling down and the environment can begin to heal.
Michael Morgan, Keyser, WV
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