Two bird conservation groups, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), have filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Air National Guard (ANG) over its plans to build and operate a wind turbine at its Camp Perry facility.
Located in Port Clinton, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, Camp Perry lies in a major bird migration corridor close to numerous Bald Eagle nests, the groups say. Accordingly, the bird groups claim, the wind turbine is likely to kill species protected under the Endangered Species Act, such as Kirtland’s Warbler and Piping Plover.
Filed in U.S. District Court, the complaint alleges that the Camp Perry project violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other federal laws protecting wildlife and the environment.
“To have a government agency disregard the government’s own guidelines is not acceptable and, if left unchallenged, could encourage others to follow suit,” comments Mike Parr, ABC’s chief conservation officer.
The groups cite a recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service radar study that found “excessively high risks” to birds and bats from wind turbines placed along the shores of the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes region – the site of one of the world’s greatest confluences of migratory birds and bats – is perhaps the worst possible place for wind energy development,” adds Michael Hutchins, director of ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program.
“The Camp Perry project would set a terrible precedent, opening up the southern shoreline of Lake Erie to further development,” Hutchins continues. “This would be a disaster for our ecologically and economically important birds, as well as bats.”
ABC and BSBO are asking the court to halt the project and require the ANG to obtain proper permitting and to conduct environmental impact assessments and other reviews called for under the ESA, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the National Environmental Protection Act.
“We have many peer-reviewed studies documenting the impact of wind energy on birds and bats,” says Kimberly Kaufman, executive director of BSBO. “And yet it takes a lawsuit to protect one of the most important migratory bird stopover habitats in the Western Hemisphere. It’s another sad commentary on the lack of wind energy regulations in this country.”
ABC and BSBO are being represented in the case by the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP and ABC’s general counsel, William Sheehan.