BSBO Responds to Ohio Supreme Court Ruling on Firelands Wind, LLC's Emerson Creek Wind Facility that threatens Bald Eagles and Migratory Songbirds
Burgandy stars = Active Bald Eagle nests in 2023
Black stars = Bald Eagles nests that went down last winter
Blue stars = 71 proposed turbines
The migratory bird experts at Black Swamp Bird Observatory would like the public to know that the recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold the Ohio Power Siting Board's (OSPB) granting of a Certificate of Environmental Compliance and Public Need to Firelands Wind, LLC for their Emerson Creek Wind Facility puts millions of migratory birds, including Bald Eagles, at risk.
This decision will allow for the construction of up to 71 wind turbines in areas of Erie and Huron Counties. These turbines would be located directly in spring and fall migratory pathways of one of North America’s largest concentrations of birds and would threaten locally-nesting Bald Eagles.
In spite of the court’s ruling, we maintain our position that Firelands Wind LLC. did not provide sufficient data to the OPSB for them to adequately determine the environmental impacts to these species.
The Ohio Revised Code Section 4906.10 requires the OPSB to “…not grant a certificate for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a major utility facility, either as proposed or as modified by the board, unless it finds and determines the probable environmental impact …” and other considerations.
The science clearly shows that the greatest risk presented by aerial structures such as wind turbines is to nocturnally-migrating birds. Yet, there were NO studies included in the Firelands Wind LLC application addressing the presence of nocturnally-migrating birds within the proposed site. Therefore, it was not possible for the OPSB to determine the risk to migrating birds and bats at the proposed location, hence this required criteria for certification was not met.
Equally alarming is that the OPSB and the Ohio Supreme Court chose to dismiss the presence of Bald Eagle nests within the footprint of the proposed facility. These nests were documented by local residents and our own Bald Eagle expert, but the court chose to rely wholly on the hired consultant’s survey instead.
During the hearing, the wind energy’s hired consultant made a blatant error, misidentifying a Bald Eagle on an active nest claiming it was a Red-tailed Hawk. This nest is directly in the footprint of the proposed wind turbines.
As a result of this refusal to acknowledge the error, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to render these sections of the project footprint as off-limits to turbines as defined under Category 1 of the Eagle Conservation Planning Document. This error moves the project into Category 2, allowing them to file for an “Eagle Take Permit.” This means they can legally kill Bald Eagles.
There are organizations advocating for wind energy development that argue climate change is a greater threat to birds than wind turbines, so bird (and bat) deaths are an acceptable tradeoff. That argument is not valid in areas where migratory birds occur in such massive numbers, where grids of turbines could have a catastrophic impact.
We agree that our nation must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address global warming. But wind turbines are not the only renewable energy option available for cleaner energy production. In areas where massive numbers of birds migrate, such as the proposed site and the lakeshore region in general, there are alternative renewable energy options, specifically distributed solar, that can be utilized on our already developed infrastructure.
Climate change should not be used as a reason to excuse negligent bird and bat mortalities.
For further information contact Kimberly Kaufman, email@example.com or 419-898-4070