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Category — Environmental issues (Windpower)

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Windpower: ABC Request vs. Government-enabled Eco-blight

“At the risk of sounding harsh, these gestures [by the American Bird Conservancy et al.] seem little more than the war’s defeated negotiating terms of surrender when, in reality, the industrial wind profiteers should be made to justify their existence. With tens of thousands of turbines placed in the U.S. and easily hundreds of thousands more to be placed until the business falls under its own weight, the onus is on industrial wind to prove its worth.”

Under the banner of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), approximately seventy organizations have requested that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell “develop a Programmatic Wind Environmental Impact Statement to identify appropriate areas for wind energy development as well as areas where new projects should be avoided to conserve wildlife and sensitive habitats.

The letter refers to studies which “have documented significant losses of birds and bats, including threatened, endangered and other protected species (an estimated 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats annually at 2012 build-out levels). The number of birds taken annually by wind energy facilities could exceed 1.4 million by 2030 if there is no change in U.S. policy towards wind energy development.”

“Siting Is Everything”

The signatory groups “are supportive of renewable energy as a way to address anthropogenic climate change, but only if it addresses wildlife and habitat impacts. In particular, this means appropriate pre-construction assessments of risk leading to proper siting, post-construction mitigation and independent monitoring of fatalities, and compensation if and when public trust resources are being taken.”

The letter states that, “when it comes to wind energy, siting is everything.” The groups “believe that much of this conflict could be averted by a National Wind Energy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which would determine where wind energy should be developed and where it should not.”

My Letter to ABC

This letter is being distributed widely. My copy arrived via the Allegheny Highlands Alliance, “an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to protecting the mountain resources of the Allegheny Highlands.”

I elected to respond to several members of that organization with these comments: [Read more →]

May 8, 2014   No Comments

Energy Tax Reform: Scrap the Baucus Proposal (Part III: Environmental Issues)

[Editor note: This is the third except of a January 15 letter to the Senate Finance Committee concerning the Baucus tax-reform proposal of December 18, 2013. Part I reprinted the executive summary and conclusions; Part II the high cost/low value of windpower; and Part IV will review the negative environmental effects of continued subsidization of windpower, including the “cleanliness” standard of the Baucus proposal.]

For more than a decade, the wind industry and its advocates have created a false impression among many in the public, media, and government that electricity from wind is “clean” and can be provided without adverse environmental and ecological impacts.

As demonstrated earlier, the production of electricity from wind actually results in emission of air pollutants because electric grid managers are forced by the availability of electricity from wind to keep other, generally fossil-fueled, generating units immediately available to compensate for the unreliability, intermittence, and volatility of the output from wind turbines.

Six Issues

But that is not the only adverse environmental, ecological, scenic, and property value impact resulting from “wind farms.” Others include: [Read more →]

January 21, 2014   No Comments

Violent Environmental Problems With Wind Turbine Operation: From Avian Mortality to Catastrophic Failure

Renewable energy wind turbines as electricity sources possess extreme environmental problems not found in their renewable energy rival–solar photovoltaic. These problems are due to rotation of 130-foot or more long, thirteen-ton turbine blades with tip speeds of 200 miles per hour.

“An unavoidable problem of wind turbines is killing flying creatures.  The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) produced a video “Eagle lawsuit ruffles wind industry feathers”.  The video records a bird apparently being killed by a wind turbine. It appears the bird went back for a second look at the turbine and a blade struck the fatal blow. Possibly the bird thought the turbine was a bigger bird.”

 

A companion article published March 19, 2013, by CFACT is “Wind turbines kill up to 39 million birds a year” by wildlife expert Jim Wiegand. Details of studies on bird fatalities caused by wind turbines are cited in this article.

The source of Jim Wiegand’s statement wind turbines kills up to 39 million birds a year is found in the December 15, 2012, Townhall article by Paul Driessen “Stop Subsidizing the Slaughter”. Mr. Driessen’s estimates are based on bird fatality studies done in the United States and Europe that are referenced in the article. He used 39,000 wind turbines operating in the United States at the end of 2011 for making estimates.

It has been long known wind turbines are devastating to bat populations. A U. S. Geological Survey report “Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines: Investigating the Causes and Consequences” mentions thousands of bats are killed annually at wind turbine sites around the world. [Read more →]

April 3, 2013   13 Comments

Dear Carl Pope: What About the “Cuisinarts of the Air” (Sierra Club term still part of the windpower debate)

“Tension in the room mounted. The old man … pleaded with the [California] planning commission to protect his pigeons from ‘the Cuisinarts of the air’. The arrow went straight home, sending up a roar from the audience. A new image had been created, and the cameras flashed it across the country. Although often credited to staging by Cerrell and Associates, the term was conceived by the Sierra Club.”

- Paul Gipe, Wind Energy Comes of Age (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995, p. 450.

“I once believed in the Sierra Club, until the CLUB ( an insular bunch of activists who aren’t looking at the entire picture but only at their own agendas) started fully supporting [windpower] …. Everything the environmentalists (including myself for 20 years) have worked so hard to protect, is now being destroyed or in jeopardy. Wind factories are industrial projects.”

- Jen Gilbert, Dear Sierra Club (Canada): I Resign Over Your Anti-Environmental Wind Support (June 7, 2011).

I am reminded of the Sierra Club’s all-too-brief War on Wind whenever I read either a piece by Carl Pope, former executive director and chairman of the Left environmental group, or more recent Sierra Club fare pretending that industrial wind turbines are “green.”

Pope’s Huffington Post piece last week, “The Lessons of the Battle Over Tax Increases for the Wind Industry,” praised the one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for new wind construction on purely economic grounds. “Cheapness is not the only economic advantage wind and solar bring to the electricity sector,” he opined. “They are already generating huge numbers of new jobs and supply chains.”

Wind Economics

Cheaper? What about the high up-front infrastructure costs required to turn such a dilute energy source into electricity? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind-generated electricity is substantially more expensive than  power generated from natural gas, and solar is much more expensive than windpower. [Read more →]

January 14, 2013   7 Comments

Killer Energy (Time to Apply Endangered Species, Wildlife Laws to Windpower?)

Gleaming white wind turbines generating carbon-free electricity carpet chaparral-covered ridges and march down into valleys of Joshua trees.” Such is “the future” of American energy,  not “the oil rigs planted helter-skelter in [nearby] citrus groves.”

So reads a recent Forbes article. But Wind vs. Bird by Todd Woody also raises concern about the fate of a 300-megawatt “green” turbine project threatening California condors, a species just coming back from the edge of extinction. The project might be cancelled as a result.

Indeed, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has asked Kern County to “exercise extreme caution” in approving projects in the Tehapachi area, because of potential threats to condors. The “conundrum will force some hard choices about the balance we are willing to strike between obtaining clean energy and preserving wild things,” the article suggested. Hopefully, it concluded, new “avian radar units” will be able to detect condors and automatically shut down turbines when one approaches.

All Americans hope condors will not be sliced and diced by giant Cuisinarts. [Read more →]

January 18, 2012   4 Comments