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Windfarms bribe environmentalists for permission to kill 300 bats, 44 nene

Excerpts from four articles in the August, 2019, edition of Environment Hawaii and one from Maui News …

After Paying $2.75M Bribe, Kawailoa Windfarm Gets Permit to Kill 160 More Bats

EH: … “We’re not happy,” Lisa Spain told the room after casting the deciding vote to approve an amended Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that would allow the state’s largest wind farm to kill 160 more endangered bats than the 60 it was originally allowed to.

The 4-1-1 vote, held at the state Endangered Species Recovery Committee’s meeting on July 25, was a necessary step in finalizing an amended plan and incidental take license/permit for Kawailoa Wind, LLC, which owns a 69-megawatt wind farm on O‘ahu’s North Shore. The facility, which started generating power in November 2012, has been operating in breach of its license for more than a year, having directly or indirectly killed as many as 69 bats as of December 2017. As of March 31, there was a high likelihood (80 percent) that the facility had killed as many as 87 bats, according to a report by the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW).

(Had four favorable votes not been obtained for the amended HCP, the plan would not have received the support of a majority of the seven-person Endangered Species Recovery Committee and would not have been recommended for eventual approval by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. In that event, under Section 95D-121 of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, the plan would not be subject to Land Board approval and would instead have to receive a two-thirds majority vote of both houses of the Legislature.)

In addition to any pressure committee members might have felt to support a project that helps the state meet its goal of producing 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2045, they also had to face another hard fact: In December 2016, while it did not take an official vote, the committee had expressed its general support of a proposal to consider Kawailoa’s financial assistance in the state’s purchase of lands at Helemano as mitigation for the take of an additional 55 bats.

With some fanfare, the Department of Land and Natural Resources acquired the 2,900 acres from Dole late last year for about $15 million, with $2.75 million of that coming from Kawailoa Wind.

The sale closed one month after Michelle Bogardus of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and DOFAW administrator Dave Smith sent letters to Kawailoa Wind concurring with the company’s approach toward offsetting the take of 55 bats….

read … Wind Farm Barely Gets Preliminary OK To Kill 160 Additional Endangered Bats

Auwahi Wind Farm Inches Closer To Permit Allowing 140 Bat Kills

EH: … On July 25, the state Endangered Species Recovery Committee ap- proved an amended Habitat Conservation Plan for Auwahi Wind Energy, LLC’s 24-megawatt wind farm at Ulupalakua Ranch on Maui.

If the plan also receives approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the facility will be authorized to kill or injure 140 endangered Hawaiian hoary bats over the course of its incidental take license, which expires in 2037.

The company’s original plan and take license, approved in 2012, allowed the facility to take only 21 bats. By the end of 2016, however, the wind farm was estimated to have directly and indirectly killed as many as 38. By June 30, 2018, that number had grown to 46…..

read … Auwahi Wind Farm Inches Closer To Permit Allowing Higher Bat Take

EH: Maui Study Finds Bat Core Ranges Are Larger Than Previously Thought>

EH: Are Petrels Breeding on O‘ahu? – “On July 21, 2017, a Hawaiian petrel, or ua‘u, was found dead at the wind farm. The species was not included in the facility’s original HCP because the bird wasn’t thought to regularly occur on the island.”

MN: Maui Wind Farm Plans to Kill 44 Nene