3/20/2009: The Heartbreak of the Horicon Marsh and what Senator Plale's Bill Means to Birds and Bats
Red Alert, Wisconsin
A draft of a bill that would allow the Public Service Commission to repeat the wind turbine siting disasters in Fond du Lac and Dodge Counties has been introduced by Senator Jeff Plale, (D- South Milwaukee) This bill would allow the developers to site wind turbines even closer to the Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. How green is a bird and bat killing machine?
On the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and the Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge:
Click on the image above to watch a short video showing industrial wind turbines along the Horicon Marsh. Environmental groups asked for a set back of at least four miles. The PSC approved a two mile setback. They also agreed to reconsider approving a 1.2 mile setback from the marsh should the developer request they do so.
Post construction studies are showing that birds and bats are being killed by the wind turbines along the Horicon Marsh. (Click here to find out more)
This will only continue. If there are renewable energy options that don't destroy habitat or kill wildlife, why does the PSC approve such projects?
How much does the PSC really know about siting wind turbines?
There are better, much more environmentally friendly renewable energy choices. Why endanger wildlife and destroy habitat when we don't have to?
19 March 2009
As the Obama administration pursues more homegrown energy sources, a new government report faults energy production of all types — wind, ethanol and mountaintop coal mining — for contributing to steep drops in bird populations.
The first-of-its-kind government report chronicles a four-decade decline in many of the country’s bird populations and provides many reasons for it, from suburban sprawl to the spread of exotic species to global warming.
In almost every case, energy production is also playing a role.
“Energy development has significant negative effects on birds in North America,” the report concludes.
Birds can collide with wind turbines and oil and gas wells, and studies have shown that some species, such as Prairie-chickens and sage grouse, will avoid nesting near the structures.
Ponds created during the extraction of coalbed methane gas breed mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, leading to more bird deaths. Transmission lines, roads to access energy fields and mountaintop removal to harvest coal can destroy and fragment birds’ living spaces.
Environmentalists and scientists say the report should signal to the Obama administration to act cautiously as it seeks to expand renewable energy production and the electricity grid on public lands and tries to harness wind energy along the nation’s coastlines.
The report also shows that conservation efforts can work. Birds that reside in wetlands and the nation’s waterfowl have rebounded over the past 40 years, a period marked by increased protections for wetlands.
“We need to go into these energies with our environmental eyes open,” said John Fitzpatrick, the director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which helped draft the report along with non-profit advocacy groups. “We need to attend to any form of energy development, not just oil and gas.”
Many of the bird groups with the most rapid declines in the last 40 years inhabit areas with the greatest potential for energy development.
Among the energy-bird conflicts cited by the report:
- More than half of the monitored bird species that live on prairies have experienced population losses. These birds, such as the Lesser Prairie Chicken, are threatened by farmers converting grasslands into corn fields to meet demand for biofuels.
- In the Arctic, where two-thirds of all shorebirds are species of concern, melting ice brought about by climate change could open up more areas to oil and gas production. Studies show that trash near drilling rigs attracts gulls that prey on other species.
- Mountaintop coal mining in Appalachia clears patches of forest contributing to the decline of birds like the Cerulean warbler that breeds and forests in treetops.
The U.S. State of Birds report, released by the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday, was requested in October 2007 by President George W. Bush.
While its findings are similar to earlier studies, it is the first to be issued by the government and the agency in charge of managing energy production on public lands and protecting the nation’s wildlife. The report did not indicate whether one form of energy production is more detrimental than the other.
On the Net:
State of The Birds report: http://www.stateofthebirds.org
Department of Interior: http://www.doi.gov
19 March 2009