An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides another example of ill-prepared and vote driven politicians ignoring advice offered by state and federal agencies. The opening statement in article titled “Somerset wind turbines seen as aviation hazard” declares, “The Federal Aviation Administration says that half of the 30 windmills proposed by Gamesa Energy USA for a controversial wind power project on an ecologically sensitive ridge area in Somerset County are a hazard to aviation.”
Think that matters? Check out the next paragraph: “Opponents of the wind turbine project hope the FAA’s preliminary finding will shut it down, but FAA officials say even a final determination would not stop the development.”
Why would the FAA let this happen? “It should be the end of the project, but I think Gamesa will call in some of its political clout to get the FAA to back off,” said Jack Buchan, a member of Sensible Wind Solutions, which opposes the development.”
But Mr. Buchan is probably some NIMBY wack job concerned that “The project would be located in the watershed of two of the state’s highest quality trout streams and along the Allegheny Front ridge, a major bird and bat migratory route, of Shaffer Mountain in the northeastern part of the county.” You know how those crazy folks trying to protect the environment get carried away sometimes, and after all, if the wind actually does spin one of these tinker toys at exactly the right time, the grid might be able to accommodate the burp and fire up a table lamp in Philadelphia!
So, what about the whole FAA and potential for aviation danger thing? You know these FAA folks have some real clout and, after all, “The FAA said that 15 of the 404-foot-tall wind turbines exceed “obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect” on the airspace above ridge or nearby airports and flight routes.”
Yep! – “the FAA has no legal authority to stop any development”
So how does this Gamesa group get so much clout? “Gamesa was invited to the state by Gov. Ed Rendell in 2004 as part of a green jobs initiative. The company manufactures turbines in Ebensburg, Cambria County.” Well, I’ll be darned!
Did I mention that Gamesa is based in Spain? Oh, no matter … they can still dip into the deep well of taxpayer subsidies.
Is this the first issue to surface at Shaffer Mountain? Nope! Check out this post at Shaffer Mountain blog:
DEP denies GAMESA’S permit on Shaffer Mountain — FOR THIRD TIME!
“For the third time in just over a year DEP has refused to issue Gamesa a permit to begin its destruction of Shaffer Mountaiun, It’s two Exceptional Value Streams, an identified endangered Indiana bat maternity colony and roosting sites, miles of roadless mountaintop forest, rare upland wetlands and a world renowned raptor migration corridor on the Allegheny front. Read DEP’s denial letter here. Gamesa has made 3 refilings of information to try to meet DEP’s standards but is unable to do so. Instead Gamesa has filed silmilar information each time hoping thet DEP, with its new Secretary John Hanger, a former wind industry lobbyist, will rubber stamp the permit. DEP refuses to do so — not yet at least.
The DEP letter identifies many areas of concern that Gamesa has failed to address. Some of these areas of concern — pure water resource degredation and endgangered species killing, are unable to be addressed. They will occur absolutely and with certainty if Gamesa builds this huge industrial wind power plant as proposed on Shaffer Mountain. These issues will keep Gamesa out of this — one of Pennsylnvanias last and best Biological Diversity area of Exceptional Significance.”
Here’s the DEP letter for your convenience. Of course, they will probably be ignored as well. It will be up to folks like Mr. Buchan to try to get a few dollars together, hire a lawyer and force the LLCs to do what they should do willingly. With toothless agencies flailing about, the citizens themselves are often required to pick up the fight.