In Green vs. Green battle, the bats win
In a court fight that pitted wind energy against endangered bats, the bats won.
A federal judge in Maryland has halted expansion of the Beech Ridge Wind Farm in West Virginia, ruling the massive turbines are likely to kill endangered Indiana bats. It was the first court challenge to wind power under the Endangered Species Act.
"The development of wind energy can and should be encouraged, but wind turbines must be good neighbors," Judge Roger W. Titus wrote in a 71-page opinion in Animal Welfare Institute v. Beech Ridge Energy.
Indiana bats, brownish-gray creatures that weigh about as much as three pennies, hibernate in caves with several miles of the wind farm in Greenbriar County. A 2005 estimate concluded there were about 457,000 of them, half the number in 1967, when they were first listed as endangered.
Titus said Chicago-based Invenergy, a company that produces "green" energy, must seek an "incidental take permit" with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if it wants to complete the planned 122-turbine project. If the permit is approved, it would include conditions to mitigate harm to the bats. For instance, it could restrict the times turbines run to avoid the migration season.
Titus said he will allow the company to complete construction of 40 windmills it has begun to install on an Appalachian ridge. Until an incidental take permit is granted, however, those turbines can operate only in the winter when the bats are hibernating.
Titus opened his opinion with this quote from "Scientific Progress Goes 'Boink:' A Calvin and Hobbes Collection."
Calvin: My report is on bats. . . . Ahem . . . “Dusk! With a creepy, tingling
sensation, you hear the fluttering of leathery wings! Bats! With glowing
red eyes and glistening fangs, these unspeakable giant bugs drop onto . . ."
-- Maria Glod
December 9, 2009; 12:25 PM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse , Maria Glod
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