(Washington, DC, Oct. 31, 2017) Bird conservation groups are challenging an industry-supported environmental assessment of Lake Erie's first offshore wind project, citing numerous inadequacies in both science and process. Ohio's Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) reject the assessment's claim that the planned Icebreaker wind energy facility would have little to no impact on birds and bats, citing the critical importance of Lake Erie to migratory birds such as the endangered Kirtland's Warbler.
The draft environmental assessment (EA), prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers, was based on several studies conducted by consultants to the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, or LEEDCo, the consortium developing the project.
“Based on our exhaustive review of the EA, we see no evidence to support the claim that the project poses little to no risk to birds and bats,” said Kimberly Kaufman, BSBO's Executive Director. “In fact, having conducted more than 30 years of migratory bird research along Lake Erie, we believe the six-turbine Icebreaker project would pose a significant threat to wildlife — not to mention substantially increased impacts that would be triggered by the planned expansion of the project to more than 1,000 turbines.”
The organizations highlighted five major concerns in their comments, which were submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Energy:
BSBO and ABC hope that these concerns will be reflected in any future assessments of the environmental impact of Icebreaker and other proposed offshore wind energy development in the Great Lakes. A public comment period closed earlier this month, and a final EA could be issued in the next few months. The Ohio Power Siting Board will hold a local public hearing on the project in Cleveland, OH, on Nov. 8, 2017.
“Environmental assessments are intended to evaluate risks to public trust resources like wildlife before projects move forward,” said Michael Hutchins, Director of ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program. “Assessments like this one, however, are based on inadequate studies that contradict easily observable facts and ignore up-to-date science and cumulative impacts. As the United States makes important strides to increase renewable energy, we need to do much better to minimize impacts to birds and other wildlife.”
ABC's work on the Bird-Smart Wind Energy program is supported by the Leon Levy Foundation.
American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.
Black Swamp Bird Observatory is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit whose mission is to inspire the appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of birds and their habitats through research, education, and outreach.
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