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I'm also a staff member at ONDA, and just wanted to add some information about effects of wind power development on sage-grouse. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, based on scientific studies of other energy development impacts, in 2005 recommended at least a five mile set-back of wind energy generation and transmission projects from occupied sage-grouse habitat. http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/sagegrouse/pdf/section_5.pdf. The potential for serious harm to sage-grouse was confirmed in a recent (July 2009) study published by the U.S. Department of Energy, titled "Sage-Grouse and Wind Energy: Biology, Habits and Potential Effects from Development" (available at http://www.pnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-18567.pdf).
Extrapolating from the devastating effects of oil and gas development in Wyoming on sage-grouse there, the July 2009 study concluded that "Both wind farms and oil and gas fields consist of large aggregations of infrastructure and activities that share some common features, such as transmission lines and roads, and differ in others, such as wind turbines. Impacts to sage-grouse from wind energy development would likely be similar to those resulting from fossil fuel development described in Section 4" - that is, major harm to the birds, including causing them to abandon nesting and mating sites, abandoning winter habitat, and reducing their reproductive rates.
Wind turbines, with their height, noise and "shadow-flicker," can lead birds that live in a relatively flat and featureless habitat to move many miles away from these projects, and from their necessary habitat. Transmission lines similarly can become perches for predators and lead either directly to sage-grouse deaths or to driving them away from their habitat. In short, wind power development can play havoc with these birds, and it's important that we not ignore or minimize the potential for serious consequences of industrial-scale energy projects on this dwindling species.
- Dave Becker, Staff Attorney, ONDA
posted 3 years, 9 months ago
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