Letter to the Editor of the Keyser, WV Mineral Daily News-Tribune:
Mon Feb 01, 2010, 05:48 PM EST
Mt. Lake Park, Md. – Endangered bat should preclude Garrett wind farms
(Editor’s note: The following letter was written to the Garrett County Commissioners, and submitted to the News Tribune for publication.)
As a result of expert testimony showing that a federally endangered species, the Indiana Bat, was in the vicinity of existing and proposed industrial wind projects in nearby West Virginia, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus halted their operation.
At a Maryland Public Service Commission evidentiary wind hearing a few years ago, expert testimony from the nation’s leading bat researcher, Thomas Kunz, revealed the presence of the Indiana Bat near a proposed wind project atop Roth Rock. A number of other wildlife experts, including those from Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, have also given public testimony about the presence of rare, threatened and endangered state species along southern Garrett County’s Backbone Mountain Ridgeline.
The County Office of Planning and Land Development is specifically prohibited by the Sensitive Areas Ordinance from issuing a building permit that could adversely affect an official habitat for Federally Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species. Further, landowners and developers are directed in Section Six of the Ordinance to “work cooperatively with the State and Federal environmental agencies to minimize harm to habitats of rare, threatened and endangered species.
In light of the U.S. District Court’s decision and acknowledged existence of an endangered species in the area, as well as in the spirit of the Sensitive Areas Ordinance, it is respectfully requested that any and all permits pending or granted for Garrett County wind development either be rescinded or not be granted until the appropriate federal agency provides an incidental takings permit.
Please consider meeting with appropriate officials within the state’s Department of Natural Resources. A proactive joint county/state inquiry directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency asking for a formal review of the site in question would be a progressive act of statesmanship. Taking such an enlightened course of action may also prevent future claims related to willful negligence.
Kimberly A. Connaughton & Stephan M. Moylan
Eric L. Tribbey
Mountain Lake Park