New York is moving ahead with plans to build a massive offshore wind turbine installation in the Atlantic waters off Long Island. As those plans move forward, though, a western New York lawmaker is calling for a moratorium on wind plants in fresh water, such as lakes or rivers.
The focus is Lake Erie, which provides drinking water for residents of the Buffalo area, but a moratorium, if passed, would apply across the state.
Fears that wind turbine construction would churn up potentially toxic sediments from the bottom of Lake Erie as well as worries about radar problems have sparked the call for a moratorium, which has already been in place in neighboring Ontario, Canada since 2011.
“When you take into account that 11 million people rely on Lake Erie for their drinking water, it becomes even more obvious that we must take decisive action now to protect these valuable resources that are so critical to our daily lives,” Buffalo-area GOP Senator Chris Jacobs said when he announced his proposed bill on Wednesday.
Diamond Offshore Wind Development, an affiliate of Mitsubishi subsidiary Diamond Generating Corp., has been looking at placing approximately 50 wind turbines that could be up to 460 feet tall in the lake, according to Jacobs’ office.
Jacobs, a former Erie County clerk and secretary of state during the Pataki Administration, noted that the turbines would be 100 feet taller than Buffalo City Hall.
Jacobs said U.S. Border Patrol officials have also said the wind towers would play havoc with their radar systems, used to protect against human and contraband smuggling.
“Officials from Homeland Security confirmed to me that the major shadows cast by these incredibly large structures would make their radar systems useless,” he said.
“The frequency of drug smuggling and human trafficking in this corridor, and the waste of millions of taxpayer’s dollars invested to prevent this illegal activity is more than enough justification for a moratorium right now,” he added.
The turbine company couldn’t be reached for comment.
The proposed moratorium would cover fresh water bodies statewide, which could include the Hudson River, said Jacobs.
It wasn’t immediately known if wind power developers are looking at large lakes such as Lake Champlain or rivers like the Hudson as potential development sites.
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