State Sen. Chris Jacobs came out in opposition to the massive windmill farm being discussed that would place as many as 50 industrial-size turbines in Lake Erie bordering the municipalities of Hamburg, Evans, Brant and Angola.
Jacobs said he met with the U.S. Border Patrol, who explained they have invested millions of dollars in high-tech radar systems along the entire coastline to identify illegal activity crossing the U.S. border.
“Officials from Homeland Security confirmed to me that the major shadows cast by these incredibly large structures would make their radar systems useless in that Southtowns’ coastline,” Jacobs said. “The frequency of illegal drug smuggling and human trafficking in this corridor is reason enough for me to oppose this wind turbine project.”
The proposal by Diamond Offshore Winds to place the turbines approximately five miles out into the bed of our region’s fresh water supply was discussed with local leaders four months ago. Primary among the environmental concerns raised is the negative impact from the disturbance of any dangerous or hazardous materials from Bethlehem Steel that have settled into the lakebed over many decades. Fears have also been raised that pools of toxic algae could be forcibly spread throughout larger portions of the lake by the changing wind patterns created by the turbines.
Local fisherman have raised questions about how damaging the constant vibrations caused by the turbines would be on the lake’s fish supply, as well as the restricted access to prime fishing spots that would be imposed. Concerns about the impact on migratory birds similar to those that sidelined Peace Bridge re-design talks years ago were also raised.
The senator said that his examination of the project revealed process concerns as well, particularly flaws with the manner in which the state’s Article 10 law that governs the siting of energy projects is administered, that has restricted input from local residents and host municipalities. While Diamond Offshore Winds continues to reach out to state agencies and local municipalities to advance the project, Jacobs said the totality of the evidence he researched and the opinions of local leaders who would be most impacted dictate that the project should be stopped before any formal applications are even filed.
“The evidence is clear that fresh water bodies, particularly those at critical international border crossings, are not locations for siting energy projects of this magnitude,” Jacobs said. “Educating the public on the negative consequences this project would have and sending an early and clear message to the owners of this company that we oppose it are critical if we are going to successfully protect our greatest natural resource and the surrounding communities,”