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Why Audubon Members Should Support LI Offshore Windmills

from Ian:

It seems that there is some misunderstanding among some birdlovers on Long Island about the siting of the LI Offshore Windmills.  Some seem to be under the mis-impression that the Offshore Windmills were wrongly sited for bird migration. The exact opposite is true. The windmills were sited off Jones Beach as the place least likely to interfere with bird migration and shipping. Interference with bird migration is the primary reason the windmills were not sited off Montauk.

Furthermore, studies that have been done on European offshore windmills and bird migration. It was found that the birds were smart enough to fly around the windmill farms.

Furthermore, it would be good if that concern about birds was re-directed to the questions of how many birds would be killed flying into smokestacks. It would be good if that concern about birds was re-directed to the questions of express concerns about how the pollution from the power plant would kill birds. it would be good if that concern about birds was re-directed to the questions of the increased effect on global warming the energy plant would create and how many birds that would kill.

Here is information more information about birds and LI Offshore Windmills from the http://lioffshorewindenergy.org website:

What impacts does wind energy have on wildlife, namely birds?

According the American Wind Energy Association (www.AWEA.org), wind turbines have relatively little impact on the environment when compared to conventional power plants. Concerns have been raised regarding the effects on birds. Most of these issues have been resolved or greatly reduced through technological development and improved siting of the wind plants. The Long Island Offshore Wind Park has initiated one of the most comprehensive baseline bird assessment evaluations for any wind project in the world. The Project has been conducting ongoing detailed avian studies of the project area since March of 2004. Boat and aerial surveys by trained avian biologists have been conducted as well as marine radar studies to continuously track birds. These comprehensive studies identify exactly what avian activity is present in the project area. Information concerning avian activity continues to be obtained from existing databases and local avian monitoring groups. Field study and other information quantifies the types of birds that fly in the area, migration patterns, habitat use, nesting times and behavior. The wind park turbines will also be designed to mitigate any potential offshore avian impacts through design considerations such as sleek towers that minimize perching opportunities, and the slow, visible rotation of the blades to help birds avoid the rotors. Avian studies in the area to date have shown relatively small numbers of birds offshore. Studies of existing European offshore wind sites have shown that birds generally avoid offshore wind parks by flying around the turbines. Pre-construction and post-construction studies will be conducted on fish and avian populations to ensure a full impact and risk assessment. The Project will be monitoring for bird impacts once the Project becomes operational.

Wind energy does have some minor wildlife impacts but they are minimal compared to other traditional electric generation choice. The modern wind turbine is far less harmful to birds than are radio towers, tall buildings, airplanes and vehicles and numerous other manmade objects. The Environmental Assessment for the U.S. Coast Guard 411-foot tall lattice radio tower to be built at the Robert Moses Coast Guard Station determined that “no significant adverse impacts to wildlife are anticipated.” (Construction of Remote Fixed Facilities Shinnecock and Fire Island Suffolk County, New York, U.S. Coast Guard, November 14, 2005, p.3-17) Bird deaths due to wind development will never be more than a very small fraction of those caused by other commonly-accepted human activities. Summaries of available wind studies can be found at www.currykerlinger.com and at www.nationalwind.org.

Leading human-related causes of bird kills, in the U.S. alone, include:

  • buildings (100 million to 1 BILLION per year)
  • hunters (100 million per year);
  • vehicles (60 million to 80 million per year)
  • communications towers (10 million to 40 million per year)
  • pesticides (67 million per year)
  • power lines (10,000 to 174 million per year)

How will this project affect local birds?

Ongoing site-specific avian surveys were designed with sufficient sampling rigor to account for variation in temporal and spatial bird abundance. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) were consulted in designing the study. Both the boat and aerial surveys are conducted throughout the year to account for seasonal variation in abundance, distribution and composition of migrating birds as well as summering and wintering birds. In addition, the surveys will cover more than one year to account for annual differences in avian use of the Wind Park area. Five migratory seasons (three spring and two fall) and monthly off-season surveys will be included in the studies. A multi-year database (NEXRAD) will be used to supplement the field database. With the exception of weather conditions that would make it impossible and/or unsafe to execute the survey protocols, surveys are being conducted over a wide range of weather conditions. Marine radar studies are being conducted to document abundance of nighttime and daytime migrants.

The results of these studies will be evaluated during the environmental review and permitting processes.

Why was the wind park sited off State parks rather than the eastern end of Long Island?

LIPA undertook a comprehensive regional siting analysis of offshore areas around Long Island that analyzed a number of determinant factors that resulted in a recommended area within which the Project should be located. This information can be found on LIPA’s website (www.lipower.org/cei/offhsore.study.html) which summarizes the siting criteria used in the development of the recommended area for this Project and the input received by various federal, state, and local agencies as well as interested organizations. The siting of the Wind Park at the proposed location and within the recommended area was based on numerous technical and environmental factors (refer to discussion of Wind Park Siting in the ACOE Application, Environmental Questionnaire). The Wind Park site selection included the following considerations:

  • Site within the 52-nautical square mile recommended area identified by the feasibility study,
  • Avoid water depths greater than 70 feet,
  • Ensure average wind speeds greater than 18 miles per hour,
  • Avoid/minimize offshore areas of environmental concern, e.g., areas of high avian concentrations, shipwrecks, Atlantic Right Whale migration routes, etc.
  • Reduced visibility exposure to large populated areas,
  • Reduced visible profile of the project, i.e., cluster design, avoid existing seabed infrastructure e.g. cables, pipelines, etc.
  • Minimize the cable distance to a suitable interconnection substation point, and
  • Avoid Nantucket to Ambrose Light shipping lanes into the Port of New York.

Audubon New York supports the development of renewable sources of energy, including wind power. Energy from nonrenewable sources, such as fossil fuels, is associated with several major negative environmental impacts, including habitat damage from mining and drilling, oil spills, pollution, acid rain, and global climate change, among others. To the extent that use of wind power reduces fossil fuel use, these negative environmental impacts that harm birds and other wildlife may be reduced.

Wind power is a clean, renewable source of energy with few negative environmental impacts. However, wind power facilities have the potential to negatively affect birds and other wildlife through direct mortality from collisions and through habitat degradation from turbine construction and maintenance. Audubon New York supports efforts to minimize potential negative impacts of wind power through proper site assessments prior to construction of wind turbines, avoiding the placement of wind energy developments in high risk areas, and through thorough evaluation of avian mortality at existing and new wind turbine facilities.

Audubon New York calls for comprehensive avian surveys at proposed wind turbine sites prior to site development. Assessing avian use of a site prior to wind turbine development is a crucial first step in preventing wind farm placement in high-risk areas. Pre-development surveys should include both field and radar surveys during the breeding, migrating, and wintering seasons, should allow for adequate observation sample sizes (i.e., sampling days), and ideally would occur for more than one year.

Audubon New York opposes wind farm development on sites determined to be of high risk to bird populations, including: 1) sites of known local bird migration pathways or in areas where birds are highly concentrated during migration; 2) sites in habitats known to be important to state and federally listed bird species; 3) Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and Bird Conservation Areas (BCAs) identified for their importance to large numbers of migrants, either raptors or nocturnal migrants; and 4) IBAs and BCAs where construction of the turbines (i.e., the footprint) would significantly lower the habitat value of the site.

To learn more about how and in what circumstances wind turbines significantly increase bird mortality and potentially impact bird populations, Audubon New York calls for additional, thorough studies to be conducted on the impacts of wind energy projects on birds at existing wind sites and for three to five years following the construction of new sites. These studies should be paid for out of a fund established by wind energy producers.

Finally, Audubon New York encourages the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to continue refining the USFWS interim guidelines for the siting, design, construction, and lighting of wind towers to mitigate potential negative impacts to birds, other wildlife, and their habitats.

from Audubon NY Position on Wind Power Development http://ny.audubon.org/wind_power.htm :Audubon New York supports the development of renewable sources of energy, including wind power. Energy from nonrenewable sources, such as fossil fuels, is associated with several major negative environmental impacts, including habitat damage from mining and drilling, oil spills, pollution, acid rain, and global climate change, among others. To the extent that use of wind power reduces fossil fuel use, these negative environmental impacts that harm birds and other wildlife may be reduced.

Wind power is a clean, renewable source of energy with few negative environmental impacts. However, wind power facilities have the potential to negatively affect birds and other wildlife through direct mortality from collisions and through habitat degradation from turbine construction and maintenance. Audubon New York supports efforts to minimize potential negative impacts of wind power through proper site assessments prior to construction of wind turbines, avoiding the placement of wind energy developments in high risk areas, and through thorough evaluation of avian mortality at existing and new wind turbine facilities.

Audubon New York calls for comprehensive avian surveys at proposed wind turbine sites prior to site development. Assessing avian use of a site prior to wind turbine development is a crucial first step in preventing wind farm placement in high-risk areas. Pre-development surveys should include both field and radar surveys during the breeding, migrating, and wintering seasons, should allow for adequate observation sample sizes (i.e., sampling days), and ideally would occur for more than one year.

Audubon New York opposes wind farm development on sites determined to be of high risk to bird populations, including: 1) sites of known local bird migration pathways or in areas where birds are highly concentrated during migration; 2) sites in habitats known to be important to state and federally listed bird species; 3) Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and Bird Conservation Areas (BCAs) identified for their importance to large numbers of migrants, either raptors or nocturnal migrants; and 4) IBAs and BCAs where construction of the turbines (i.e., the footprint) would significantly lower the habitat value of the site.

To learn more about how and in what circumstances wind turbines significantly increase bird mortality and potentially impact bird populations, Audubon New York calls for additional, thorough studies to be conducted on the impacts of wind energy projects on birds at existing wind sites and for three to five years following the construction of new sites. These studies should be paid for out of a fund established by wind energy producers.

Finally, Audubon New York encourages the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to continue refining the USFWS interim guidelines for the siting, design, construction, and lighting of wind towers to mitigate potential negative impacts to birds, other wildlife, and their habitats.

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