Posted by: mountainprotector | January 17, 2010 

Recent Information on Low Frequency Noise Concerns

Here is the latest!  It is so frustrating that the wind industry and Appalachian State keep denying that there are problems!  Mr.  Dennis Scanlin said any concerns were “bogus.”  They are not bogus Mr. Scanlin!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

“I am a professional consultant engineer, and my company is based in the United Kingdom,” begins Dr. Malcolm A. Swinbanks in his letter to the Michigan Public Service Commission, “but fourteen years ago I was asked to come to the US to lead an advanced research project for the Office of Naval Research. My American wife & I now live in Port Hope, Michigan. During the course of my career, I became a consultant to many different companies and research organizations on a wide variety of problems related to unsteady dynamics, noise, vibration, shock and acoustics.

“I have worked personally with both Professor J.E. Ffowcs-Williams, and Dr. H.G. Leventhall, two of the foremost UK acousticians. Twenty to 30 years ago, I worked directly in collaboration with both on several low-frequency noise installations, thus gaining first-hand experience of the problems associated with low-frequency noise and infrasound. My actual time-on-site addressing low-frequency noise probably well exceeds either”—Malcolm A. Swinbanks, PhD

“Low frequency noise can induce feelings of discomfort and nausea, not unlike seasickness. Like seasickness, the sensitivity of different individuals varies enormously, some being immediately sensitive, while others can barely detect anything.

“I have stood beside two people on a site where low-frequency noise was present. One person said ‘I can’t really hear anything.’ The other said ‘I feel ill. I should like to leave.’ Both were reporting accurately; there can often be more than 12dB difference (a factor of 4) in the sensitivity of individuals to low-frequency noise. Given that for very low frequencies, 12dB represents the difference between just audible, and uncomfortably loud, it is clear that very real problems are experienced by some individuals, while others remain largely unaffected.

“It is important to emphasize that there does not yet appear to be a full understanding of how to assess low-frequency wind-turbine noise.

“So it is difficult to understand how it can be argued emphatically that there is no problem, when it is clearly reported that significant ambiguity still remains in assessing these effects.” 

At last someone is thinking about the animals, and specifically the bats!  If we lose all of our bats…I guess we will have to use pesticides again???  Not on my watch!  THANK YOU ANIMAL WELFARE INSTITUTE! 

Judge Prevents Project That Will Kill Hundreds Of Thousands Of 
Bats From Proceeding Without Federal Permit 

Washington, D.C. – Federal district court Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland has issued a comprehensive ruling that an industrial wind energy facility in Greenbrier County, West Virginia will kill and injure endangered Indiana bats, in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court concluded that “the development of wind energy can and should be encouraged, but wind turbines must be good neighbors.” This is the first federal court ruling in the country finding a wind power project in violation of federal environmental law, and it highlights the critical importance of balancing the creation of renewable energy and protection of endangered wildlife species under the ESA.  

The court recognized that “the two vital federal policies at issue in this case are not necessarily in conflict” because defendants Invenergy and Beech Ridge Energy could have sought a permit under the ESA which would “allow their project to proceed in harmony with the goal of avoidance of harm to endangered species.” The ESA provides for the issuance of permits that authorize projects in endangered species habitat, but only when the United States Fish and Wildlife Service attaches strict and enforceable conditions designed to minimize the impact on imperiled species.  

In finding a violation of the ESA, the court held, based on extensive expert testimony and other evidence, “that, like death and taxes, there is a virtual certainty that Indiana bats will be harmed, wounded, or killed imminently by the Beech Ridge Project in violation of … the ESA, during the spring, summer, and fall.” Accordingly, the court held “that the only avenue available to Defendants to resolve the self-imposed plight in which they now find themselves is to do belatedly that which they should have done long ago: apply for a permit” under the ESA.  

In holding that the project is “certain to imminently harm, kill, or wound Indiana bats,” the court relied heavily on testimony by leading bat biologists Dr. Thomas Kunz of Boston University, Dr. Michael Gannon of Penn State, and Dr. Lynn Robbins of Missouri State University. Dr. Kunz – whom the court has described as the “leading expert in the field of bat ecology in the United States” – testified that the project will not only kill endangered Indiana bats, but may kill more than a quarter of a million bats overall, including species already being decimated by threats such as the devastating disease known as white-nose syndrome.  

Plaintiffs in the case – the Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, and caving enthusiast Dave Cowan – applauded the court’s ruling.  

“As this nation embraces renewable energy which all of the plaintiffs support, it is critical that such projects be undertaken consistent with federal law to ensure that our rush to develop a green energy future doesn’t jeopardize imperiled species,” said D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute. “In this decision, the court sends an unequivocal message that the ‘green energy’ label does not exempt wind power from compliance with federal laws protecting wildlife and the environment,” added William Eubanks, an attorney with Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal which represented plaintiffs in this case. “Indeed, other wind power companies are complying with the ESA permitting process, the Congressionally mandated vehicle for minimizing harm to listed species.”  

The court enjoined the construction of any additional wind turbines and prohibited the operation of all existing turbines between April 1 and November 15 until an Incidental Take Permit is obtained. Operating the existing turbines between November 16 and March 31 is not likely to impact Indiana bats since they hibernate during the winter months.  Per an earlier agreement between the parties and the court, 40 of the 122 planned wind turbines have been erected to date, and those are generally farthest from known winter populations of Indiana bats.  

“We do not oppose responsible development of renewable energy projects be they wind farms, solar farms, or tidal energy projects but there must be independent federal regulation of these project to avoid unintentional consequences to protected species,” said John Stroud, spokesperson for Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy.  “This court has made clear to Beech Ridge and its parent company, Invenergy, that the ESA has teeth, that the Indiana bat will be harmed by this project, and that these companies don’t get a free pass to violate the ESA,” said Dave Cowan, an avid spelunker who has explored many of West Virginia’s caves.  

*  *  *  *  *  

Contacts:
William Eubanks/Eric Glitzenstein, Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, (202) 588-5206
D.J. Schubert, Animal Welfare Institute, (609) 601-2875
John Stroud, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, (304) 645-7169
The Animal Welfare Institute is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and is dedicated to alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by humans. Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy is based in Williamsburg, West Virginia is dedicated to educating people about responsible wind energy development in West Virginia. Plaintiffs were represented in the case by Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C.  


Posted by: mountainprotector | January 10, 2010 

ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN RIDGE PROTECTION ACT ALLIANCE

The Mountain Ridge Protection Act Alliance is a group of concerned citizens from North Carolina who want to see the 1983 Mountain Ridge Protection Act remain strong and we will make sure that  this state law continues to protect our highest ridges from commercial development, including industrialization from commercial wind plants.  The wind industry is trying to weaken this law and our group plans on fighting them and all  who go with them, every step of the way.   This alliance is joining with like-minded concerned citizens and groups  from this state and other states in protecting our cherished heritage and mountain ridges.

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Posted by: mountainprotector | January 6, 2010 

What is the 1983 Mountain Ridge Protection Act?

The 1983  Mountain Ridge Protection Act, also called the “North Carolina Ridge Law,” was enacted by the NC General Assembly in 1983 in response to a high-rise resort that was built on Sugar Top Mountain in Avery County. This huge blight on the ridge of sugar top mountain led to public outrage. The public outrage led to a law being written and passed that would protect the highest ridges from ever having that happen again.  The law protects ridges at or above 3,000 feet elevation or which are 500 feet or more above an adjacent valley floor, limiting building heights to 40 feet on protected ridges.

The Ridge Law has a provision which specifically exempts “windmills” from the restrictions.   This exemption is for windmills, not wind turbines.  The exemption is for windmills that generate mechanical energy.  Wind industry proponents have tried to weaken this law by stating that the word windmill included wind turbines.  In the law it states that each windmill has to be next to a house or structure.  Commercial wind turbines are not attached to homes, and they are not slender in nature, they are HUGE.  

The 1983 Mountain Ridge Protection Act is written to protect the highest ridges from industrialization.  A wind plant is just that, an industrial plant.  

I like to point this out to the wind industry.  Why would a law give an exemption for the very thing it was trying to prevent?   


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