Federal lawsuit filed against Beech Ridge Energy stops 40% of turbine construction
The Federal lawsuit filed against Beech Ridge Energy and its parent corporation by Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and others will culminate with an evidentiary trial starting October 21st in Greenbelt, Maryland. MCRE’s attorneys, of the nationally recognized public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, charge that the Beech Ridge industrial wind energy facility will very likely kill and injure endangered Indiana Bats – a patent violation of the Endangered Species Act. The only way in which a party can cure such a violation is to obtain an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before any deaths or injuries occur, which Beech Ridge Energy has failed to secure from the Service at this time.
To our knowledge, this is the first wind energy project to be challenged for violating the Endangered Species Act, and it puts Greenbrier County in the national spotlight on these important wildlife issues. Previous studies have shown that industrial wind turbines on forested ridges in the east kill thousands of bats annually. In fact, Beech Ridge Energy concedes that approximately 135,000 bats could be killed during the twenty-year operation of the project. Despite this staggering figure, Beech Ridge Energy’s staff have testified previously that Indiana bats were not likely to be killed by the project because pre-construction surveys did not establish presence of the species on the project site.
However, the discovery process leading up to this October trial has exposed evidence to the contrary. Ultrasound survey techniques that identify bat species by their unique call sequences were conducted in 2005 by Beech Ridge Energy’s subcontractor, but the existence and results of these surveys were never disclosed to the federal or state wildlife agencies, nor the West Virginia Public Service Commission. Two of the nation’s leading bat biologists, Drs. Lynn Robbins and Michael Gannon, have recently analyzed that previously unreleased data and confirmed the presence of Indiana bats at the Beech Ridge project site.
Turbines had been slated to go up in August, but because of the efforts of MCRE and others, 40% of phase one turbine erection and 100% of phase two turbine erection is on hold until the issue has been fully litigated and decided in the US District Court.
Because this effort has not come without a price, MCRE appreciates any and all contributions that have been made to sustain this effort to protect our community and our natural environment. Your continued financial support for MCRE can be mailed to: MCRE, P.O. Box 1, Williamsburg, WV 24991 and info is available online at: www.wvmcre.org