Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kittitas Valley Audubon Society rejects wind

The Kittitas Audubon Society board of directors on September 2 voted 10-3 to oppose three wind facilities proposed in the Kittitas valley of central Washington state.

"Kittitas Audubon believes that lacking a national, state, and local commitment within the framework of a national energy policy to promote conservation, the [perception of -- KM] additional energy supplied by the wind farms will only help continue and actually increase the current wasteful level of energy use. National, state, county, and city governments must develop energy conservation strategies to offset the demand for more energy. Wind farm development in this county is at a stage similar to that of hydropower 50 years ago and of nuclear power 25 or more years ago. Planners for those projects likely thought they had planned things well. However, here we are in 2004 with drastically impacted fish stocks, searching for ways to restore them that include removal of dams. We are still trying to find places to store nuclear waste, and attempting to clean up the leaking sites at Hanford before contamination reaches the Columbia River. Now we have an overnight overwhelming rush to build numerous industrial wind farms in this part of the Kittitas valley that occupy thousands of acres -- 7,000 acres for the KVWPP [one of the projects] alone. Since we cannot predict with reasonable accuracy the long-term environmental impacts of these projects, it is imperative that caution be taken. Policies and guidelines must be in place to protect the natural environment with special consideration for birds and bats. Wind power developers are guests of Kittitas County. Citizens of the county are the ones whose lands and environment will be affected by the wind farms. Kittitas Audubon Society is a voice for the birds of this valley and those that pass through. Our comments and recommendations are made from a perspective that the air space must be kept safe for birds and bats.

"KAS Board of Directors voted not to approve applications for any of the three wind farms because of the lack of adequate study of environmental factors affecting birds, bats, and habitat. Also, the cumulative effects of the three wind farms in relationship to other existing and future wind farms have not been studies or considered. Conservation of energy should be promoted as an alternative."

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Here's an appropriate quote from another story. "They creep closer and closer to the marsh with larger and larger turbines," said Nick Jacobs [of Advocates for the Suisun Marsh (near San Francisco, California, and the largest contiguous brackish water marsh remaining on the west coast of North America)].

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And to help you think about the size of industrial windmills, the 35-meter blades of a 1.5-MW GE assembly sweeps an acre of air, at a speed of up to 165 mph at the tips.