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Showing posts with the label wind

Wind Energy

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Wind energy destroys land , kills birds and bats , and requires immense amounts of steel and concrete , both of which are intense polluters.  And because wind energy is so intermittent -- an unreliable source of power -- utility companies have to contract with natural gas "peaker" plants to generate energy during the times when the wind is not blowing. This means that wind energy is not an efficient means of cutting carbon emissions .  There is no free lunch when it comes to energy, but we do not have to keep ordering from the same menu.  Invest in rooftop solar and energy efficiency, and we can sharply reduce our demand for destructive energy sources like coal, and natural gas, and wind. A giant bulldozer cuts into eastern Oregon land to make way for a single wind turbine.  Photo from DOE. Construction crews cut into Joshua Tree woodland habitat in the western Mojave Desert for the Alta Wind Energy Center. Photo by Friends of Mojave . A heap of destroyed Joshua

California Governor's Office Silences Public Employees

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Germany added over 5,000 megawatts of rooftop solar in one year without sacrificing any natural treasures.  Sacramento has spent nearly two years planning to destroy pristine desert for a 465 megawatt wind energy project.  And apparently they had to silence the stewards of our lands in order to get it done. California Governor Jerry Brown's office may have ordered state employees to suppress concerns about the environmental damage of a wind energy project, according to an East County Magazine and 10 News investigative report .  Stewards of California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park planned to submit comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the Ocotillo Express wind energy project, but the Governor's Office reportedly called them and ordered them not to submit comments.  Biologists and conservationists have raised concerns that the project, which the Pattern Energy Group will build on nearly 20 square miles of public land, threatens habitat for raptors, b

Sierra Club Joins Call for Mandatory Wind Energy Guidelines

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The Sierra Club informed the Department of Interior in January that it supports mandatory guidelines for the wind energy industry that would protect wildlife,  strengthening its previously expressed position that only favored voluntary guidelines, according to the March issue of the Desert Report .  The move is a positive sign that the Sierra Club hopefully recognizes that we can no longer turn a blind eye to the destructive potential of any energy source -- whether that is coal, natural gas, wind or solar -- and that the conservation community should protect our natural resources instead of facilitating their destruction for the benefit of corporate profit.  The Sierra Club's letter  follows a petition submitted by the American Bird Conservancy in December asking Washington to establish a mandatory permitting system that will hold the wind energy industry accountable to environmental law. According to the Sierra Club letter to Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar: ".

Center for American Progress Endorses Destruction of Public Lands; Wilderness Society Distributes Piece in Social Media

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The Wilderness Society appears to support the destruction of public lands, as long as the diesel-guzzling bulldozers are clearing the way for a shiny new solar or wind energy facility.   That is the bottom line of a blog piece written by the Center for American Progress writers Jessica Goad and Joe Romm--and posted by the Wilderness Society on its facebook and twitter accounts--in which Center for American Progress also suggests that Americans do not cherish their desert open spaces. The Wilderness Society's willingness to disseminate the blog piece without raising concerns for the content suggest they find merit in the article. The Center for American Progress is protesting an article by the Los Angeles Times that sheds light on the destruction of the Ivanpah Valley by BrightSource Energy for its 5.6 square mile solar facility.  The LA Times also draws attention to a land rush by solar developers proposing to destroy hundreds of square miles of desert wildlands throughout A

American Bird Conservancy Seeks Enforced Permit System for Wind Energy

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The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) formally petitioned the Department of Interior to establish and enforce a permit mechanism that would regulate the wind energy industry's impacts on birds.  The petition provides insight into a cavalier energy industry that has shown little regard for wildlife conservation, and Federal agencies ignoring their responsibilities under two major laws -- the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Acts.  Without regulation, the wind energy industry will push already-imperiled birds and bats into further decline, including the Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Whooping Crane, Cerulean Warbler, Hawaiian Goose, and California Condor .  Our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions should not involve such widespread destruction of natural resources. Currently, it is only voluntary for wind companies to apply for a "take" permit when wind turbines are expected to kill protected birds, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service

BLM Continues Review of Searchlight Wind Project

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The BLM later this month may release a preliminary environmental impact review for Duke Energy's proposed wind project near Searchlight, Nevada, according to Basin and Range Watch .  The project's monstrous proportions would industrialize 38 square miles of desert landscapes with up to 140 wind turbines.  Each turbine would be over 400 feet tall -- that is over 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.  The turbines would pose a threat to hawks, eagles and other bird life in the area, and would require miles of new roads etched into the valleys and hillsides.   You can find beautiful photos of the area, including wildlife and landscapes, at this website put up by Basin and Range Watch. This graphic shows the height of the Statue of Liberty compared to a wind turbine that is roughly the same size as proposed for the Searchlight Wind project.  Graphic from windfarmfactsutah . The amount of land that will be transformed by the project is difficult to fathom.  The Google Ea

Environmentalism for the 1%

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The departure of the Sierra Club's chairman -- Carl Pope -- comes during a dark moment for environmentalism.  The vanguards of the green movement have compromised their core conservation ethic, forging alliances with corporations and ignoring the grassroots in order to make way for an unchecked renewable energy industry that is more intent on destroying public lands than saving them. A recent Los Angeles Times article highlights how Pope may be a casualty of this attempt to gain influence in Washington and Wall Street, but his approach has been practiced by other national environmental groups,  including the Wilderness Society, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife.  These groups have desperately sought acceptance among business and political elites, painting themselves as job creators by selling out America's landscapes to big wind and solar firms, and then bragging about the jobs they have supported.   What have they gained? Loss of respect among

Western Mojave Offers Warning on Wind Energy Impacts

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Several wind energy projects are in the early phases of planning and development throughout the Mojave Desert, including Granite Wind in the Victor Valley and Black Lava Butte near Joshua Tree National Park.  Citizens and conservationists that care for their way of life and land may want to pay attention to what is happening to the desert habitat near Tehachapi and the town of Mojave, California.  Terra-Gen Power LLC is installing over 300 wind turbines -- each nearly 30 stories in height -- across ecologically intact desert lands. The project is known as the Alta Wind Energy Center Friends of Mojave , a group of concerned citizens, formed to raise awareness about the impacts of the projects on the once quiet rural lifestyle and beautiful desert landscapes.  They have documented the destruction with the photos below: A pile of Joshua Trees destroyed by crews constructing the Alta Wind Energy Center.  These trees can live for hundreds of years, and some specimens have lived for th

Vermont Wind Facility A Perfect Example of Greenwashing

Wind turbines are not green, and the video below shows the ugly side to this utility-scale energy behemoth that is altering thousands of square miles across the country.  Not only do they require massive amounts of steel to produce, they are transported by diesel guzzling trucks for hundreds of miles, tons of concrete is needed to pour their foundations, and wide access roads are bulldozed into the land and mountain ridges where they are installed.  Once the blades are spinning, they become a huge threat to rare wildlife, such as golden eagles, hawks, owls, bats, sandhill cranes, etc.  Research indicates that at least 440,000 birds are killed each year by wind turbines, and that number is expected to climb to 1,000,000 per year by 2030 as more wind facilities are constructed. The video below shows scenes of destruction in Vermont as a mountain ridgeline is blasted away to make way for wind turbines. This is Green Energy? from Catamount on Vimeo . But most big environmental or

Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project Under Review

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The Bureau of Land Management plans to resume environmental review of the Granite Mountain wind energy project proposed by Renewable Energy Systems America (RES).   If the Granite Mountain wind energy project is approved, residents of the Victor Valley are likely to lose the majestic site of a golden eagles soaring above the desert, or the high-pitched tone of bats swooping through the night sky in chase of insects.  The project's environmental review was stalled last year as the Department of Interior basically needed time to figure out how to sneak around a Federal law that prohibits the "take" (harassment or death) of bald and golden eagles.  The spinning blades of wind turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds and bats each year.   According to the draft environmental impact statement released in 2010 before the project review was halted, several golden eagles are active in the vicinity of Granite Mountain, along with Swainson's hawk, red-tailed hawks, turke

Wind Energy, Waste, Wildlands

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The Ocotillo Express Wind energy project threatens the fragmentation and destruction of over 23 square miles of public land adjacent to Anza-Borrego State Park in the Sonoran Desert of California.  The swath of land -- as big as the city of San Diego -- is a beautiful desert vista ringed by mountains near the small town of Ocotillo, but the project would etch miles of wide roads into the desert and build over 150 wind turbines that are equal in height to 30-story skyscrapers. The project would require tons of cement and steel, and the spinning blades will pose a danger to threatened bird species .  The project would be owned by Pattern Energy Group.  Renewable energy does not have to be so destructive-- solar panels on rooftops, over parking lots, and on already-disturbed lands can meet our energy needs without destroying wildlands. (Click image to expand) If the Ocotillo Express Wind project is built, it will industrialize a pristine desert landscape the size of San Diego.  The G

Vanishing Flowers

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Spring blooms in the Antelope Valley, in the western Mojave Desert.  The Antelope Valley is also famous for the iconic California poppy (official State flower).  Unfortunately, the proposed Blue Sky wind energy project and "Wildflower Green Energy Farm" would industrialize several square-miles of these fields around the famed California Poppy Reserve, adding wind turbines and solar panels. You can visit Friends of Antelope Valley Open Space for more information. A map of the "Wildflower Green Energy Project" (in red), aptly named for the natural beauty the project will destroy.  The project would surround the California Poppy Reserve. The project would include wind turbines and solar panels, and require heavy ground disturbance. A map of the "Blue Sky" wind power project near Portal Ridge in the Antelope Valley.

Tehachapi Wind Project Under Scrutiny for Eagle Deaths

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Update: The tally of known Golden Eagle deaths at the Pine Tree wind project site has risen to eight as of early 2012. A massive wind energy facility in California's Tehachapi Mountains has killed many migratory and special status birds, including at least 6 golden eagles, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.  The bird mortality has prompted an investigation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service since the facility's bird mortality is far higher than most wind projects, according to the LA Times , and may result in prosecution if the inquiry finds violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The 12 square-mile Pine Tree Wind Project has only been in operation for 3 years in the mountains bordering the western Mojave Desert, and its unforeseen destructive impact on bird life should be a warning sign for local and Federal officials considering applications for several more facilities in the area. The environmental impact study for the Pine Tr

Environmental Groups Bow to Wind Industry Pressure on Bird Deaths

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Despite studies that wind energy projects are responsible for at least 440,000 bird deaths each year --a number expected to climb to one million by the year 2030--Defenders of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy have signaled tentative agreement with voluntary wind energy guidelines that would reverse US Fish and Wildlife recommendations to protect birds, according to E&E news .  The acquiescence of big environmental groups  to energy industry demands is disheartening, underscoring the important role of organizations that work to balance conservation and renewable energy without compromising on core environmental principles, such as Solar Done Right , Western Watersheds Project , and the American Bird Conservancy . The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has registered its concern with the draft guidelines, which cut out recommendations by scientists working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service at the insistence of the wind energy industry.  “Given the Administration’s commitment

Angry Birds in Northern California

Following up on a previous post regarding Google's plans to invest millions of dollars in a massive field of wind turbines in the western Mojave Desert, the Los Angeles Times ran a great article today on the dangers of poorly sited wind energy facilities on birds. Google's wind energy projects is one of several proposed for the Mojave Desert, and are expected to have similar impacts as the Altamont Pass project featured in the LA Times article.   A video accompanied the article and is also embedded below.

Angry Birds

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Google Inc has invested 55 million dollars in a massive wind energy project in the western Mojave Desert.  The wind energy project--the Alta Wind Energy Center--will blanket the Tehachapi mountains and generate up to 1,500 megawatts of energy when it is complete. According to the American Bird Conservancy, wind turbines can kill up to 14 birds, per megawatt, per year, and a median rate of 2.2 birds per MW, per year, according to industry estimates.  Google's investment might just kill anywhere from 3,300 to 21,000 birds, per year.   That is just a single wind energy project.  The truth about massive wind and solar energy projects is slowly coming to light as people realize that we have to sacrifice vast swaths of open space and drive some species closer to extinction. Google should know better.  Their Mountain View, California campus is covered in rooftop solar panels.  Generating energy at the point of use.  If only Google could put its ingenuity toward a more vigorous di

Granite Wind Energy Project Comment Period...

Someone recently commented on a blog post regarding the impact of wind energy on bats that the comment period for the Granite Wind Energy project proposed for the Apple Valley/Barstow area will close on 01 July.  I have been meaning to catch up with the wind energy projects in the Mojave Desert and should have a post on this soon, but I wanted to share this in the meantime.