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Save The River Submits Comments to Public Service Commission on Wind Projects

September 14th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

from Save The River’s submission to the New York State Department of Public Service:

“The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a report based on radar generated data stating, ‘Our data demonstrate that the shoreline areas of Lake Ontario are important for migrating birds and bats. We have identified behaviors that concentrate migrants along the shoreline, demonstrated that these behaviors occur regularly throughout the season, and established that migrants are flying at altitudes that place them at risk of collision with current or future wind energy development in the area. The importance of shoreline areas, as revealed by our study, highlight the need to avoid these areas as migration corridors as recommended in the Service’s Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines (USFWS 2012).’ (emphasis added)

Based on the Fish and Wildlife Service report the American Bird Conservancy concluded, “this new radar study suggests that the minimum should be extended even farther, perhaps as far as 10 miles.”

“The implications of this study for the likely impacts on migratory birds and bats of the three industrial wind projects currently proposed and proceeding now, all of which are well within 10 miles of Lake Ontario or St. Lawrence River shoreline, must be taken into account by every level of government agency – from local municipal, to state and federal – with permitting or oversight authority. In particular the New York State Departments of Public Service and Environmental Conservation which have shared responsibility, under Article 10, for the permitting and siting of industrial wind projects, must exercise their statutory authority and require the developers of these three projects undertake a joint, credible effort to apply the findings of the Fish and Wildlife Service report to the impacts of their projects on migratory birds and bats.

“Eagerness either for profits or quick solutions to the uncertainty of carbon-induced climate change cannot replace science or the development of sound environmental solutions that are protective of the ecosystem as a whole. Since 2010 Save The River has called for a moratorium on industrial wind projects in the environmentally significant and sensitive area that is the St. Lawrence River valley until a cumulative environmental assessment of the impacts of such projects has been conducted. In 2013 we objected to an industrial wind project proceeding to the application phase of the Article 10 process for the same reason. As recently as April, we reiterated this position.

Click the following for the full text of:

Save The River’s September 14, 2016 letter to the New York State Public Service Commission on the Horse Creek Wind Farm.

Save The River’s “Position on Industrial Wind Development in the St. Lawrence River Valley”

US Fish & Wildlife Service’s “Great Lakes Avian Radar Technical Report; Niagara, Genesee, Wayne and Jefferson Counties, New York, Spring 2013 Season”

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River Organizations Object to US Fish and Wildlife Eagle Taking Rule Change

February 20th, 2014 | Posted by Kate

Save The River has joined with the Thousand Islands Land Trust and the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative to oppose to a recent rulemaking change that could be a threat to Bald Eagles in the Thousand Islands Region. This week the organizations sent a letter to register opposition to the Department of Interior’s decision to issue permits for up to thirty years to developers of renewable energy projects to “take” (injure, kill or otherwise disturb) bald and golden eagles.

The letter states: “The Upper St. Lawrence River valley is a home and critical seasonal foraging habitat for a variety of winter raptors, including a growing number of over-wintering bald eagles…. The Department’s thirty year permit provision will likely become a “license to kill” these majestic and iconic birds.”

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Winter Conference Presentations available on Vimeo

April 13th, 2011 | Posted by admin

Many of the presentations from Save The River’s Winter Environmental Weekend Conference are available via Save The River’s Vimeo channel. Or, select a specific presentation from the list below.

“Save The River’s Evolving Education Program: Teaching River Appreciation Inside the Classroom & Out” (22nd Annual Winter Enviro from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

“River of the Iroquois” (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference, 2/5/11) from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

Wind Turbine Impacts on Birds & Bats: Sorting Out the Truth and Moving Forward (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference 2/5/ from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

“Preventing Invasive Species: Updates on Policy and Regulatory Improvements and How You Can Help” (22nd Annual Winter Environmen from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

“Restoring Common Terns To New York’s Great Lakes and Rivers” (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference, 2/5/11) from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

Remarks by Judy Drabicki, NY Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director (Region 6) (22nd Annual Winter Environme from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

Water Levels and the FDR Hydropower Settlement: An Attempt to Right an Historic Wrong (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conferen from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

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WINDFALL to be Shown @ Clayton Opera House March 5th

February 15th, 2011 | Posted by admin

Two free showings of the documentary WINDFALL will be shown at the Clayton Opera House on Saturday, March 5th at 12:30 and 4:00. The documentary looks at the many sides of wind energy development by profiling the community of Meredith, NY’s divisive struggle with wind energy development.

To learn more about the film, view the trailer below or visit www.windfallthemovie.com. Although the film is free, RSVPs are encouraged. To RSVP e-mail windfallinfo@yahoo.com

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Save The River Position on Industrial Wind Development within the St. Lawrence River Valley

August 4th, 2010 | Posted by admin

The abundant natural resources and the beauty of the Thousand Islands are among the region’s greatest assets. They are the foundation for a vibrant ecology, clean drinking water, and an economy dependent on tourism and recreation. Save The River’s purpose is to protect the quality of the Upper St. Lawrence River through advocacy, education and research, so the waterway continues to sustain a healthy ecology for future generations. Given this purpose, Save The River is keenly aware of the need for effective solutions to climate change, and supports efforts to shift to renewable energy sources in general. However, we are also gravely concerned about the scale and potential impacts of commercial wind development along the St. Lawrence River.

The Upper St. Lawrence River valley has one of the most unique and substantial grassland habitats in eastern North America; a habitat that is home to specialized grassland bird populations, as well as a home and critical seasonal foraging habitat for a variety of winter raptors. The grassland habitat includes Amherst and Wolfe Islands in Canada, Stony and Galloo Islands in the U.S., as well as major portions of the US and Canadian mainland towns bordering the Upper St. Lawrence River. The importance of this habitat is accentuated by the scarcity of such grasslands in this geographical region. In addition, the northeastern portion of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River is an important migratory flyway for a large number of waterfowl and songbird species that pass through our area en route to and from northern breeding grounds.

It also should not be overlooked that the federally listed endangered species, the Indiana Bat, has been identified as a resident of this same grassland community. This species must be protected from impacts associated with wind turbines.

Given the many issues listed above, it becomes extremely important for our communities to learn from the only operational wind farm currently in the flyway – Wolfe Island – before moving forward with wind farm development on the scale currently proposed. While the Wolfe Island wind farm has only 86 turbines, more than 400 turbines in as many as six different projects are currently proposed in every direction around Wolfe Island. Cumulatively, these projects could radically alter these habitats that our communities have long endeavored to protect.

Initial reports of bird and bat fatalities associated with the July – December 2009 operation of the Wolfe Island Wind Project have just recently been released, and several experts have voiced concerns that the bird mortality is on target to be among the highest in North America. During the same 6-month period, 1,270 bat mortalities were estimated from the wind farm operation. In light of these documented high fatality rates, a major concern is the apparent lack of coordination between the US and Canadian governments (Federal, Provincial, and State) in addressing the cumulative impacts on wildlife resources from the numerous industrial-scale wind projects proposed in the upper St. Lawrence valley.

The initial high avian and bat mortality documented at the Wolfe Island Wind Project along with the lack of any cumulative impact assessment for wind projects proposed within the St. Lawrence valley, demand a “wait and see” response from decision makers in the communities that are now involved with examining environmental impact studies from wind developers. With less than a year of avian fatality study completed at Wolfe Island, it will require several more years of data collection to better understand the extent of fatalities associated with the island’s wind turbine operation. Given the grassland habitat and coastal area similarities across the region, the next two years of post-operational studies at Wolfe Island will provide important data for assessing potential cumulative wind turbine impacts on wildlife resources in the upper St. Lawrence River valley.

To address these concerns, Save The River supports the following:

1. A three-year moratorium on wind project development in municipalities bordering the Upper St. Lawrence River, in the US and Canada.

2. A cumulative assessment of bird and bat mortality as well as other environmental impacts, for the upper St. Lawrence River valley, coordinated by agencies in the US and Canada, considering two regional scenarios, one for 500 wind turbines and the other for 1,000 wind turbines.

In summary, the special nature of the place that we inhabit, including the importance of the habitat and flyway, when taken with the scale of the wind energy projects proposed, the lack of a process to assess cumulative review, and the initial indications of substantial impacts to birds and bats, all lead us to conclude that wind projects proposed for our area should not proceed further until the Wolfe Island Wind post-construction wildlife impact study is completed and a cumulative wildlife impact assessment involving the US and Canadian governments has occurred.

(Download a PDF of this statement here.)

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Press Release: Save The River Calls for a Halt on Wind Energy Development Due to Environmental Concerns

August 4th, 2010 | Posted by admin

Clayton, NY (August 4, 2010) – Save The River is urging local municipalities bordering the Upper St. Lawrence River in the U.S. and Canada to implement a three year moratorium on wind project development. The move was taken after careful review of recent data showing potentially high avian and bat mortality from the first six months of operation of the Wolfe Island Wind project, the only operating wind project in the region.

Additionally, Save The River is calling for a cumulative assessment of bird and bat mortality and other environmental impacts for wind development in the Upper St. Lawrence River valley, coordinated by agencies in the US and Canada. The assessment should consider two regional scenarios, one for 500 wind turbines and the other for 1,000 wind turbines.

“The initial high avian and bat mortality documented at the Wolfe Island Wind Project along with the lack of any cumulative impact assessment for wind projects proposed within the St. Lawrence valley, demand a ‘wait and see’ response from decision makers in the communities that are now involved with examining environmental impact studies from wind developers,” stated Save The River in a position paper detailing the rationale for the moratorium and cumulative assessment.

Several factors influenced the call for a moratorium on wind energy development in the region including:

• The St. Lawrence River valley contains one of the most unique and substantial grassland habitats in eastern North America, which is home to specialized bird populations and provides critical foraging habitat for a variety of raptor species. This habitat is increasingly scarce due to development pressure and further threatened by wind energy development.

• The Indiana Bat, a federally listed endangered species, has been identified as a resident in several communities slated for wind energy projects. The scientific community has expressed growing concern regarding the potential for bat kills and population declines given the rapid proliferation of wind power facilities and the large-scale mortality that has occurred at some facilities.

• No agencies have begun to assess the cumulative impacts of the more than 6 projects proposed along the Upper St. Lawrence River and, as a result, little if anything is known about the cumulative impacts of these projects on the River ecosystem. Nor has any cross-border coordination with Canada occurred, resulting in a lack of information for agencies assessing project impacts.

“Without a full picture of the impacts of wind energy development along the Upper St. Lawrence River, it is irresponsible to move forward with the wind projects currently in development at this time,” stated Save The River Executive Director Jennifer Caddick. “Communities along the St. Lawrence River have worked hard to protect the River’s water quality and wildlife for many years. A precautionary approach is the only way to ensure that the St. Lawrence River ecosystem remains vibrant and healthy.”

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Read Save The River’s full position statement.

For more information, contact Stephanie Weiss, Save The River Assistant Director at (315) 686-2010 or stephanie@savetheriver.org

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Save The River Urges Town of Cape Vincent to Enact Moratorium on Wind Energy Development

August 10th, 2009 | Posted by admin

Save The River recently wrote the Town of Cape Vincent to urge the Town to implement a one year moratorium on wind energy development. The letter was in response to the Town’s own proposal for a limited moratorium on wind energy development.

While Save The River remains supportive of wind energy development, our request for a Town-wide, one year moratorium focused on two key issues:

  • Regional study and review process – The many wind energy projects proposed along the St. Lawrence River valley represent the largest industrial development in the region since the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway and related hydropower facilities. As with the Seaway, the ecological impacts of wind energy development are not constrained by political boundaries. Save The River remains concerned about the lack of regional oversight on these projects.
  • Rigorous SEQR and EIS study and review – Over the past few years, Save The River has raised serious concerns about the limited nature of the ecological studies conducted as part of the environmental impact statements required by State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR)  of projects proposed in the Town of Cape Vincent. To date, these concerns have not been addressed and, as a result, the Town does not have enough information to move forward with decision-making about placement of wind energy facilities.

To Learn More

Read the full letter here.

Read about Save The River’s prior comments on this issue here.

Categories: Alternative Energy,Blog,Homepage Tags:
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Save The River Comments on Wind Projects

June 29th, 2009 | Posted by admin

Save The River has been keeping close tabs on the many wind energy projects in development throughout the St. Lawrence River valley. Recently, Save The River submitted comments during the most recent round of review for the St. Lawrence Wind project proposed by Acciona Energy in the Town of Cape Vincent.

In our comments on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), we raise significant concerns about the lack of depth and breadth of the environmental impact studies and overall site review process of the proposed project.

Specifically, Save The River highlighted deficiencies in the following areas of the SDEIS:

  • Integrating relevant regional and local agency expertise to the fullest extent possible;
  • Conducting long-term pre-construction studies;
  • Conducting thorough bird and bat studies;
  • Rigorous review requirements via the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process; and
  • Visual impact analysis.

As a result of the above deficiencies, Save The River strongly recommends that the Town of Cape Vincent Planning Board require Acciona Energy, the developer of the St. Lawrence Wind Project, to take additional time to continue to review the environmental impacts of this project.

Read Save The River’s full letter here.

Save The River’s Position on Development of Wind and other Alternative Energy Projects

As communities along the River grapple with the many difficult questions surrounding wind energy development projects, many people have asked us about Save The River’s stance on wind energy.

Save The River supports alternative energy development, including wind power, in the St. Lawrence River watershed. However, the impacts of such projects must be thoroughly evaluated in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations. Additionally, projects must be planned and sited so that potential ecological damage to the River and its watershed is minimized.

Earlier Letters and Recommendations

Save The River has submitted several formal comment letters to local agencies reviewing wind energy projects in the region including:

Comments on Horse Creek (Clayton) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (6/14/07)

Commentss on St. Lawrence Wind (Cape Vincent) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (6/14/07)

Comment on BP (Cape Vincent) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (2/29/08)

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