The Sierra Club’s regional chapter is backing the proposed Lighthouse Wind project, but other environmental and local groups insist the turbines are improperly sited and would devastate migrating birds.
Save Ontario Shores, a coalition opposed to the project, called the Sierra Club’s endorsement “premature,” noting the information presented by Apex Clean Energy is still subject to review and questioning by state agencies and local stakeholders.
SOS added that the American Bird Conservancy identified the site as one of “10 worst” for wind turbines. Earlier this year, the American Bird Conservancy joined the Protecting Ontario’s Water, Environment and Resources coalition, a group of a dozen wildlife and local groups opposed to the proposed wind project in Somerset and Yates.
“We encourage the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club to not only accept information from the wind developer but to also discuss the project with the numerous groups that are members of the POWER Coalition,” SOS stated.
The American Bird Conservancy stated the site threatens migratory songbirds, raptors and is close to breeding habitats for grassland birds.
Shawn Graff, vice president of the group’s Great Lakes region chapter, dismissed the Sierra Club’s argument that cats, buildings and other human activities cause more bird deaths.
“The fact that there are other causes of bird mortality that kill more birds doesn’t mean that we should ignore the problems presented by wind turbines,” Graff said in a statement. “That’s equivalent to saying that, because heart disease is the leading cause of human mortality in the United States, we should ignore the impact of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, or kidney disease.”
Other POWER coalition members, including the Rochester Birding Association and the Genesee Valley Audubon Society, also stated Lighthouse Wind should not be sited in a crucial migratory pathway for birds and bats.
Though against Lighthouse Wind at its proposed site, groups like the Genesee Valley Audubon Society said they are in favor of wind energy as a way to curb climate change and its anticipated impacts on wildlife, including birds and bats.
“National Audubon and Genesee Valley Audubon Society believe that wind energy is an important part of clean energy to turn climate change around which is a real threat to birds,” the groups stated.
Apex claims that turbines along other migratory bird pathways, such as the Gulf Coast, have been able to minimize bird deaths through techniques like feathering the blades and stopping blades during high traffic periods. The company also stated the project would not interfere with a bald eagle nest located 1-1/4 miles from the nearest turbine.
The Sierra Club noted Apex’s assurances in its endorsement.
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