The law firm that has been threatening to sue over a planned wind farm in Pennsylvania has gotten its wish: The energy company that wanted to build the project has withdrawn it.
In a blog post June 13, Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal said that Gamesa decided not to move forward “after years of controversy,” no doubt engendered in part by the numerous notice letters sent by MG&C on behalf of its environmental clients.
Here’s the item in full from the law firm’s Wildlife and Environment Blog:
Company Pulls The Plug On Industrial Wind Farm In Critical Indiana Bat Habitat
by Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal
After years of controversy, energy company Gamesa has withdrawn its plans to build an industrial wind power facility near Shaffer Mountain, Pennsylvania. The project would have been placed in an important migratory corridor for Golden eagles and in the midst of a maternity colony of critically endangered Indiana bats. This would have been the first time that a wind project – which according to leading experts would have killed and harmed Indiana bats due to turbine collisions and a pressurizing condition called barotrauma – would be sited in such a sensitive location for an endangered species. On behalf of several conservation organizations and community members, we submitted multiple notice letters and comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detailing various violations of the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, which inevitably influenced the company’s decision to withdraw from this project in lieu of more sustainable project locations elsewhere that will better allow for clean, renewable energy without sacrificing our nation’s important natural resources.
More WE-Blog (and other) links
- Comprehensive Rulemaking Petition Filed Urging FWS to Regulate Wind Energy Impacts on Migratory Birds (12/14/11)
- Formal Notice Of ESA Violations Sent To U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Over Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm (11/3/11)
- Gamesa drops plans for wind farm (Johnstown, Pa., Tribune-Democrat, 6/13/12)
- Company cancels Shaffer Mountain wind power project (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/13/12)
- Revmodo’s coverage (by Beth Buczynski, 6/12/12)
- Gamesa halts Shaffer Mountain wind plans (by Bruce Siwy, Somerset Co. Daily American)
Thinning project doesn’t survive court challenge related to lynx habitat
The Split Creek project, which would involve the precommercial thinning of about 7,000 acres of lodgepole pine in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, cannot proceed because of NEPA and ESA violations, a federal judge ruled June 6 (Native Ecosystems Council v. U.S. Forest Service, 11-212-CWD, D. Idaho).
U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale said the Forest Service should have prepared an Environmental Impact Statement when it issued a revised map in 2005 that eliminated eight Lynx Analysis Units in the forest, lifting restrictions on thinning for about 400,000 acres.
The Forest Service issued an EA on the project, but Dale said the significance of the project warranted preparation of an EIS. In addition, the service illegally “tiered” the project under NEPA by relying on the 2005 revised map, which itself had not been analyzed under NEPA. Finally, the service should have consulted with the Fish and Wildlife Service over whether the revision of the 2005 map — and with it, the elimination of nearly 400,000 acres of land within the LAUs — would jeopardize lynx or their critical habitat.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies, a co-plaintiff in the case, issued a press release June 7. (Excerpt: “Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said, “In essence, the Court stopped the project because the Forest Service simply changed a map in 2005 to eliminate protective restrictions for lynx on 400,000 acres of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest without following the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency then claimed that it wasn’t lynx habitat and authorized tree cutting on 7,000 acres of lodgepole pine located within the Island Park and Madison-Pitchstone Plateaus Subsections of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.”)
Here’s the shovelnose sturgeon decision. More on this decision in a bit.