As advocates for wildlife, we find the current proposal by NextEra for 80-88 wind turbines in Reno County to be anything but “green.”
The wildlife of Kansas is held in trust for the people of Kansas. Kansas Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism is the official guardian of that trust. In fulfillment of this obligation, KWP&T has established guidelines for the responsible siting of wind turbines.
NextEra’s proposal violates these guidelines. It proposes turbines for native prairie, for a migration corridor, for Designated Critical Habitat for the Arkansas Darter, for the flight path of endangered Whooping Cranes, for areas near wetlands, and locations within 3 miles of a KWP&T managed area. Some eight proposed turbines score a quadruple whammy – they are within the 3-mile buffer, they fragment native prairie, degrade critical habitat, and impact wetlands.
In its official site review, KWP&T pointed out these violations.
But apparently, the Florida company doesn’t take KWP&T seriously. At the hearing April 4, NextEra brushed the guidelines off as “purely a recommendation … not a rule or a regulation.” In other words, why respect wildlife unless forced to do so?
But the only reason NextEra gets subsidies is that it purports to be “green.” With this project, they could receive federal tax credits worth an estimated $12.4 million per year, plus a state tax exemption estimated at $56 million. In return for this money, shouldn’t the public expect more than a ravaged environment?
It is our hope that Reno County commissioners will turn the KWP&T guidelines into the missing “rules and regulations.” They should insist that NextEra observe them or go elsewhere.
The wildlife and people of Kansas deserve no less.
Margy Stewart, Chair, Audubon of Kansas
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