30 December 2011

Bird-Mortality Coverup in Wind Turbine Industry

Biologist Jim Wiegand was asked by someone "involved with Nationwide Group trying to get some regulations put in place on this runaway industry. They wanted my input because I am an expert on the subject and a wildlife biologist." Wiegand will be providing further details on particular points addressed in his comments. The following are his comments, given as received via email.

Changes needed to put an end to the bird mortality cover-up from the currently unregulated activities of the wind industry. Below is a list of the nationwide changes needed.

1) First and foremost a new agency should be formed to oversee the wind industry and enforce regulations. This is needed because the Department of Interior, BLM, USFWS, State Wildlife Departments, and every State Energy Commission have demonstrated for 28 years an inability to govern or even acknowledge the true impacts caused by this industry. These agencies are so hopelessly dysfunctional that creation of a new governing body would be the quickest way to remedy the problem. This agency would acknowledge the true limitations of wind energy to fulfill the energy needs of America and also be given authority over State Renewable Energy Portfolios.

2) Researchers should have total unencumbered access at every project. Access by wind personnel or any other party should be reported to and cleared by the research team before entering a study area. This will stop workers from sweeping through the turbines to pick up bodies ahead of researchers. It will also stop other activities such as farmers/lease holders from deliberately tilling or mowing the ground around turbines ahead of researchers.

3) The wind industry with their clear history of fraud and profit bias should have no say or control over any mortality studies. They presently have total control as they have for decades.

4) Hiding bodies from wind projects by wind personnel, lease holders, researchers or for that matter, by anyone, should be a felony. This has been an ongoing practice of the industry since the 1980's and it must be stopped.

5) Mortality studies with adequate search areas should be conducted on 24-48 hour cycles and include first year of project operation. The first year of operation is when the highest number of local species are killed off. Why the needed 24-48 hour cycle, I will explained in detail at a later time later. Undersized mortality search areas are one of the wind industry ploy to minimize keep birds and bat mortality numbers.

6) There should be a moratorium all wind farm development until wind mortality impacts can be properly assessed. At this time the cumulative impacts to birds can never be understood because of the body of flawed mortality studies, flawed data analysis, and decades long wind industry mortality cover-up. Some cumulative impact analysis has been generated by the industry but this has been nothing more than rehashing previously generated bogus mortality data for a desired outcome.

7) Wind farm mortality should not be assessed by MW but instead by rotor sweep area, and by kill/speed/ hours (KSH) which would represent the wind turbine hours in operation while rotating at kill speeds(60-250 mph tip speed). These figures should then be analyzed in conjunction with a habitat placement factor. Rotor sweep, tip speed and turbine placement are the primary wind turbine factors that slaughter our birds.

8) It is time for the scientific community to take an honest look at Altamont Pass to identify the true impacts from the propeller style wind turbine. An accurate raptor survey is badly needed taking into account the numbers of, or lack of, permanent raptors living in the habitat in and around the wind turbines of Altamont Pass. Instead of just counting bodies under the turbines there needs to be a meaningful raptor nest inventory and study that looks at the actual ongoing impacts to the populations living in the Altamont Pass region. I guarantee that with an honest study, the 59 pairs on nesting golden eagles once claimed (a wind industry generated report) to be living within a 19 mile radius of this wind farm, will not be found. I also suspect that any study area of several hundred square miles would clearly show more raptors residing per square mile in similar habitat the further away one gets from Altamont Pass. It is my understanding that no eagles have nested in the 86 square mile region of Altamont pass for over 20 years even though this is prime golden eagle habitat. How much further does this void extend? This is the most critical information needed from Altamont pass or and it has been deliberately avoided.

9) Sensitive impact sensors should be placed in the hub of each turbine. They should be foolproof and encased in a black box so to speak so the can not be tampered with by wind industry personnel. If these were put in place the world would be astounded by the numbers accumulated.

10) Despite objections from the industry, the use of trained dogs and video surveillance would not only save time but also greatly enhance researcher efforts. The use of dogs would also make it more difficult for wind personnel to hide or dispose of bodies.

11) All gag or nondisclosure clauses written into wind industry contracts between lease holders, researchers and all wildlife groups should be eliminated.

12) There is a worldwide environmental crisis developing from the propeller style wind turbine. There have been dire warnings issued to State and Federal energy commissions of the coming population crash of birds and bats across the world from the mortality caused by the installation propeller style wind turbines. Government agencies need to start telling the truth and put into place an aggressive alternative wind turbine design program because there is no way to ever make these turbines safe for birds and bats.