From VAWind: Highland County Supervisors Liable for Non-compliance with Endangered Species Act
Wood Rogers PLC, the Roanoke law firm representing Highland Citizens, has advised the Highland County Board of Supervisors that allowing Highland New Wind Development to proceed without the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) required by the Endangered Species Act will place the county in legal jeopardy. The Highland supervisors have ignored previous warnings on the advice of the county’s attorney.
The new warning follows the recent federal court ruling requiring Chicago-based Invenergy Inc., to stop further construction of its Beech Ridge Project in nearby Greenbrier County, WV and to dramatically curtail operation of 40 completed turbines until the required ITP permit is obtained.
As outlined in the Woods Rogers letter, the issues related to Highland New Wind Development, which has started site preparation without an ITP, are even-more compelling.
Whereas the Beech Ridge project threatens one endangered bat species, the Highland project threatens two endangered bat species and both bald and golden eagles. Moreover, unlike the the Beech Ridge case where only the developer was responsible for compliance, in the Highland case both the developer and the authorizing local officials are responsible for compliance.
Both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have advised Highland New Wind to obtain an ITP before proceeding. Based on the importance of the site as a migratory pathway for birds and bats, the VDGIF contended in testimony presented to the State Corporation Commission that the project may result in the highest mortality rates for any wind energy project in the eastern U.S.
Letter to the Highland Board of Supervisors: