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Editorial — Questionable actions: Apex’s use of helicopter may have scared eagles off Galloo  

It’s time for the state to say enough is enough. Apex has used misleading tactics to try to acquire the necessary permits and authority to construct its wind turbine project on Galloo. How much questionable behavior will state officials tolerate from this firm before pulling the plug? Apex seems determined to site its turbines by hook or by crook, so it’s up to the state to halt such antics immediately.

Credit:  Watertown Daily Times | May 21, 2019 | watertowndailytimes.com ~~

Once again, Apex Clean Energy has engaged in dubious behavior when it comes to the wildlife population on Galloo Island.

Apex withdrew its applications in February for state permits to construct a 108-megawatt wind turbine project on Galloo Island. But Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex, wrote in an emailed statement that Apex has continued exploring the possibility of siting turbines there.

Earlier this year, the firm contracted with Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. to survey eagles in the area using helicopters. A document dated March 12 sent to the state Department of Environmental Conservation reported that the 10-mile buffer for the helicopters comprised Association, Calf, Galloo, Hoveys, Little Galloo and Stony islands as well as “small islands and peninsulas northeast of Galloo Island near Chaumont Bay.”

Clifford P. Schneider, a Wellesley Island resident and former DEC wildlife biologist, filed a complaint April 29 with the DEC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He said using helicopters during breeding season was “unprofessional and irresponsible.”

Mr. Schneider reported that he and Kathryn A. Muschell used a boat to observe bald eagles nesting on the island on April 18 and 21. They then discovered that helicopter surveys were conducted on April 23. So they again used a boat to review the island on both April 28 and April 30, but they didn’t see any eagles.

“It’s against state and federal regulations to harass eagles on a nest, and it’s considered a taking,” Mr. Schneider was quoted as saying in a story published Monday by the Watertown Daily Times. “My belief is that the helicopter and the way it was operated force those birds to leave the nest.”

The DEC said that it is investigating Mr. Schneider’s complaint regarding the survey work and could not comment further on the matter at this time.

Mr. Schneider said there are less-intrusive ways to survey the islands for eagles. Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. conducted on-ground surveys for Apex in 2017 and 2018. He said that Apex already knew that eagles used Galloo Island for breeding, and he wasn’t certain if any state agency required the firm to conduct additional surveys.

The question remains how long will the state put up with bad faith actions on the part of Apex. In its applications, it failed to disclose the existence of a bald eagle nest on Galloo. But the company acknowledged under oath that the island caretaker made the firm aware of the nest in the spring of 2017.

Apex said that even after being made aware of the presence of the nest, it saw no “material reason” to update its application because it determined the nest was not being used for breeding. So it allowed its inaccurate statement to stand. The DEC, though, found evidence that the nest was used for breeding; this could have prevented Apex from locating its turbines on the island.

Mr. Schneider has raised the issue of whether Apex decided to use the helicopters during breeding season for the eagles with the intention of scaring them off Galloo Island. If such a plan succeeds, that would make it easier for the firm to carry out its project.

It’s time for the state to say enough is enough. Apex has used misleading tactics to try to acquire the necessary permits and authority to construct its wind turbine project on Galloo.

How much questionable behavior will state officials tolerate from this firm before pulling the plug? Apex seems determined to site its turbines by hook or by crook, so it’s up to the state to halt such antics immediately.

Source:  Watertown Daily Times | May 21, 2019 | watertowndailytimes.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments to query/wind-watch.org.

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