[Tweeters] re: Wind Power

Ruth Sullivan godwit513 at msn.com
Sun Aug 17 16:37:12 PDT 2008

Hello Richard,
I also wrote the first message you wrote about Wind power and you included with my vote ,that I am against Wind power and thank you to get this subject started,

Cheers Ruth Sullivan
----- Original Message -----
From: Richard Carlson
To: Scott Downes ; tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 4:08 PM
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] re: Wind Power

I appreciate Scott's thoughtful response. I'm just trying to get across the vast scale of the windpower enterprise and how limited our data is about avian impacts. Wind power is going from millions of dollars invested to 10's of billions in a very few years. It's expanding a thousand fold. With billions at stake, the potential conflicts of interest are huge. I just don't want wind power in general or at specific sites to get an automatic pass.

Large structure impacts are more than just radio towers. New York is shutting off it's skyscraper lights on foggy nights during migration to reduce the carnage. I've been where we picked up a half dozen dead warblers below just one building, and those are just the few we found before the feral cats got to them. We're talking about millions of 300 ft wind machines and millions more huge transmission towers spread all over rural America. Do they have warning lights or not? Do lights help or hurt? Wind is a dispersed resource where the new transmission towers will probably outnumber the windmills.

Full avian impact assessment means much more than picking up dead hawks on site. What about the injured birds that make it to the next field? How do we know the local raccoons , owls skunks etc. didn't grab the victims before we count them? What if the birds just leave a major breeding or wintering area? Many prairie birds simply won't breed near anything tall, because that's where their predators hang out. The key impacts are probably episodic. The radio towers are fine until a foggy night where thousands of birds die. If you miss checking things that one night, you miss nearly all the impacts.

I'm sure the new large windmills are better than the old ones that spun so fast they were invisible to the birds, but they still could have unacceptable impacts in many locations.

In recent years, politics and poor judgment has led the US environmental movement to support some disastrous policies. Corn-based ethanol, originally supported by many groups as bio-fuels, is an economic, environmental and human disaster. Unchecked immigration, which is leading to dramatic US population growth that will overwhelm everything else we do, has seen nothing but politically cowardly silence from nearly all environmental groups. Let's start looking more carefully before we leap.

Richard Carlson
Full-time Birder, Biker and Rotarian
Part-time Economist
Tucson, AZ, Lake Tahoe, CA, & Kirkland, WA
rccarl at pacbell.net
Tucson 520-760-4935
Tahoe 530-581-0624
Kirkland 425-828-3819
Cell 650-280-2965

----- Original Message ----
From: Scott Downes <downess at charter.net>
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 3:55:26 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] re: Wind Power

First there seems to be some thought in my post that I was in error for not mentioning solar. I would like to applaud Doug for putting solar on his house and anybody that does such. Personal use of solar or other indepedent uses are largely without any negative consequences.
Doug states:

I am against wind power for several reasons.

1. There are other less intrusive options available

I agree 100%. Is research available today to start working on them? And while may be less intrusive, lets be honest when we disucss things, like I stated above when we educate ourselves on what technology we support, do a pro and con list for all available options, just about every technology has some cons, lets look at what it the preferred lost cons. Is it wind power? Maybe, maybe not. If you look at worlds use of energy we are probably going to need all of the renewables possible, wind, solar, etc..all...

2. Impact research is sketchy in spite of all that has been said. I think Scott summed it up best with words like probably, maybe, doubtful, suggests, and the like

I also never stated that we have all of the research answers, but again lets be honest; how many decisions are really made with complete knowledge? Do we know the long-term impacts of allowing shrub-steppe to be plowed up for farms or houses? I could write a book on listing these decisions. I also never stated that wind research is sketchy. Because its such a hot topic currently, the amount of research into it is staggering. Dozens of PhD projects are being funded by wind, hundreds of other studies including on grouse are being done. Most areas would kill for the amount of research being done currently in wind? Why because there are so many unknowns and biologists who care about wildlife are trying to find out. Does the industry get ahead of our research? yup. I did state that the knowledge lacking is in basic understanding of species natural history which plagues us all. These same population questions are going to plague any and all decisions regarding land use, from plowing etc.. to wind.

3. Large tracts of public lands are being dramatically changed forever by private enterprises, while the same groups that espouse this are determined to stop private enterprise from utilizing the lands that they actually own.
Some public land is being changed, however most of the land currently under wind is on private land and landowners are being paid fairly well for it. Well enough that in many cases they dont plow up their grassland or shrub-steppe to plant wheat around the turbines, so some habitat is actually being saved by wind and some is lost. Like I said, good and bad and alot of gray. This is ones of those gray areas.

Doug states:
Lastly I must argue with Scott about power needs. The PNW does not need power.

I also strongly agree with Doug that we are hampered in the PNW by selling power to other areas. I never stated the PNW has power needs, I did state the US and the world has power needs, so things must be built somewhere. So while habitats in the PNW get effects of energy development they dont get the use. One major difference I see is that we need to stop thinking in terms of state borders. Birds dont live by state borders, pollution doesn't live by state borders and the total energy needs of the US and the world don't live by political borders. He states let Arizona or California deal with their own issues. Well the Sage sparrows and other species do migrate through the southern states that he speaks of, and if we dont come up with something some states will continue to put up coal fired power plants which I am strongly against as they might not have dead birds piling up at their doors, their effects are far more harmful than any renewable. The not in my backyard philosophy isnt valid, something is going somewhere. We have to determine what the something is and where the somewhere is. To do this requires talk not within political borders but among different political borders.

I think there are technologies that have more promise than wind, but almost no technology is without adverse effects, we would do well to remember stuff. Just because we dont see a bird falling, doesnt mean there is no effects. I would love to see incentives for people to put solar on their home, but currently it is a technology most people cannot afford and is impractical in non-sun dominated areas for a major energy source. For people to have it as a mainstay work needs to be done, and should. However, solar has another side, that is industrial plants. Those are also major projects and will destroy habitat as its kind of hard to install huge solar panels on top of a sagebrush.... Biofuels have been mentioned, but to do that midwest farmers are going to polw up CRP and prairie lands to plant corn and that has effects.

Doug also states that "There are other less intrusive options available".
Its a noble effort to install solar panels on houses and any that can, should in addition to other enrgy conservation strategies, all of our birds will be better off for it. The main problem is that people that can install solar aren't third world countries, aren't the poor etc.. the world energy crisis isnt going to be solved by solar on houses. I would love to see R & D on making us all as energy self reliant on our homes as we could, but we aren't there yet and unless we all plan on shutting off things electronic accorss the county, more humans are here every day that use more power and the need is growing, so something is required to be built. Like I said before, something is going to be continued to be built to supply energy needs for WA, the US and the world. Educate yourself on what in your best educated opinion is the least obtrusive energy and voice it to those decision makers.

Finally, apparently people need to read my posts again. I never stated that I'm in favor of building wind, nor did I say that wind is without impacts. Plowing up the shrub-steppe or grazing in the shrub-steppe personally tears my heart out. Far more shrub-steppe is damaged by non-wind though, including vineyards, grazing, wheatfields etc... I am a conservationist first, finding a bird or bat under a turbine, even one bothers me. Please don't make the mistake that because we research wind or are associated with wind that it doesn't. However, I'm also have a annoying practical nature to myself and know that larger problems arent going away.
I did my master's in the quilomene on the current site of the Wild Horse Wind Farm on Sage Thrashers (I don't need to be educated on what is in the Quilomene, I'm pretty darn familar with it, probably more than just about anybody on here as I spent over 200 days on site over the course of 2+ years). I also never attempted to defend all agency decisions. I will defend the personnel. I know its popular to yell at agency biologists for decisions they make, well lets look at what goes into their decisions. They are to preserve the wildlife of the state while managing the receational needs of the taxpayers they serve. These sometimes aren't in unison. Are they political? Of course! They are apart of the government, which is a political entity. The head of agencies are often political appointees getting pressure for political reasons and biological decisions are only one of their factors (and unfortunately sometimes not a strong one). If we as birders care enough to make a stink about wildlife related issues, get educated, get informed and get involved and make our voice heard. Biologists themselves (whether agencies or consultants) have little actual say in the grand scheme of things. All we can do is do sound science and hope its followed. We are not political entities just happen to work with and for them.

I have a feeling this discussion has begun to be beat to death, so would encourage everyone to read all that they can about everything and use sound decision making opprtunities to inform the powers that be where you want to go. We all have difference of opinion, however what may get lost is we all love birds and wildlife and we want them to be around for our kids and grandkids. What we have to do is figure out the correct way to do this. To avoid another silly post by littl ol' me today, I would recommend everyone read this line three time before posting anything in response to what I've stated in my post:
I am not for or against wind power. I am for people being fully informed and making informed decisions. I want to get facts and educational materials available to people. I want people to do their own research using posts made today and looking at nationalwind.org. I am also for preserving wildlife and habitats, that is why I work in biology and why I bird, because I get a smile on my face on just being around birds and wildlife and believe we owe it to everyone to have the same smile.

Scott Downes
downess at charter.net
Yakima WA


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