Cohocton Wind Watch: Wind farms accused of concealing deaths of protected species
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Friday, April 15, 2011

Wind farms accused of concealing deaths of protected species

As the wind industry loses favor around the globe, watchdog groups are demanding accountability from the huge corporate interests that run them. According to reports, bird toll census numbers are being rigged by burying or otherwise concealing mutilated bird carcasses rather than reporting them.

Not only is wind power proven to be ineffective in terms of both cost and energy production, but its devastating effects on soaring birds, bats, the environment and communities is increasingly being condemned.

The letter below, from noted wildlife biologist and wind energy expert Jim Wiegand and sent in response to a report in the The Journal, is being shared to highlight some of the reasons for demanding full disclosure from, and stricter regulation of wind farms. In addition, it's important that any investigation into the industry should include testimony from leading engineers and wind turbine developers not involved with the antiquated and lethal propeller-style turbine. In this way it will be evident what a dead-end road this industry, in its current incarnation, has lead us down.

Editor, I would like to comment and further enlighten you readers on the recent story "Bird Deaths Prompt Wind Rules - USFWS and Voluntary Guidelines". The USFWS Voluntary Guidelines need to be examined closely for what they are. As it is there are clear Federal and State laws on the books that protect rare and endangered species. But for the wind industry these laws are just voluntary. Your state has speed limits. Are they voluntary? Murder, rape, assault and so on, are the laws of any of these crimes voluntary for any special group? The point is that the USFWS is not protecting the nation's rare and endangered species nor is it upholding the laws that were written to protect them. The reality is that the voluntary guidelines along with the incidental take permit, were created for this industry in Washington to bypass environmental law.

It is well known that wind turbines cause bird and bat mortality however the total magnitude of this impact cannot ever be fully understood until there is complete transparency. Thanks to the USFWS , there is no transparency. This information is made even more difficult to obtain when the access the wind properties is conveniently limited by the industry itself. Keep in mind, wind farms have been known to conceal blade strike victims as in Spain where the bodies of 19 unreported griffon vultures were found buried on wind farm property. I have been told that wind industry contracts and leases also have gag clauses written into them so this information can be limited. I believe the concealment of blade strike mortality is it is a routine practice for the industry.

To insure transparency all wind farms should be required to operate with specific conditions. Every wind farm should be subject to inspection at any time by non-industry biologists and college enrolled wildlife biology students that would be more than willing to survey properties. Also the unreported disposal or hiding of bodies of any protected species should be treated as a felony with corresponding large fines against the wind farm. The use of 24 hour video camera/web cams with feeds to an accessible internet site should be required of any and all turbines in high priority habitats. Each wind farm should also be set up with mandatory mortality thresholds and shut down if these thresholds are met.

If the public truly wants transparency they will demand guidelines to keep the public informed of the true impact of wind farms to protected bird species in their regions. For obvious reasons, NO wind farm should ever be able to police their own facilities. In California, Condors have disappeared without a trace and in the Texas 2009, 23 Whooping Cranes disappeared without a trace. These are huge birds not even a feather was found. Wind farms sit in both of their habitats.

Electrical power lines and lead poisoning are commonly given as the probable reasons. If one were to think about all this logically the truth becomes obvious. If you were a California Condor, a Golden Eagle or a Whooping Crane would you rather glide into a stationary and even flexible power line or be smashed with a several ton wind turbine blade moving at 220 mph? Transmission lines are not killing off the Red kite population in Europe. The propeller style wind turbine is. Power lines also haven't killed the 2000-2500 Golden Eagles that have perished at Altamont Pass.

As it now stands, no state can not depend on the worthless USFWS voluntary guidelines to protect their protected bird species from this industry. If one were to interview USFWS employees in the field, they would find that most are not in agreement with the disconnected USFWS brass sitting in Washington.

There is a glimmer of hope in all this because taxpayers are finally starting to understand how their money is being manipulated and funneled off into the bank accounts of greedy corporations. The wind industry is one of these industries. The nation desperately needs a televised Senate or Congressional committee investigation into this industry. If this were to happen, this wind industry would be exposed for their use of corrupt biologists, bogus studies and to their influence on Washington. Jim Wiegand

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