|Mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia. Photo from Sierra Club announcement on Patriot Coal settlement.|
According to its website, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (WVHC) is demanding higher standards from the wind energy industry. WVHC and a host of other environmental groups -- including Save Western Maryland, American Bird Conservancy, Friends of Blackwater, Allegheny Highlands Alliance, Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County, Laurel Mountain Preservation Association, Allegheny Front Alliance -- are focusing efforts on the Criterion Wind energy project in western Maryland. The Criterion Wind project consists of 28 turbines -- much smaller than some of the desert-based wind energy projects under consideration or construction -- but which threatens the endangered Indiana bat.
According to WVHC's website:
In response to a lawsuit brought by Save Western Maryland and other interested parties, Criterion agreed to seek an Incidental Take Permit for Indiana bats to comply with the ESA. During its first full year of operation (2011), Criterion conducted daily monitoring for bat and bird mortality between April 5 and November 15. Although no Indiana bat deaths were confirmed, Criterion estimates that the project killed approximately 1,093 other bats (39.03 bats per turbine) and 448 birds (16.01 birds per turbine). This rate is described in the draft Environmental Assessment as the highest per-turbine bird mortality ever estimated at a studied wind project in the United States, and as the highest per-turbine bird mortality ever documented in North America.
|Wind turbines. Photo from joint WVHC and American Bird Conservancy announcement. Photo by Mike Parr.|