Wind Project puts bald eagles in danger

Industrial wind not held accountable for violating the Golden and Bald Eagle Protection Act.
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Order Denying T. Boone's Bird and Bat Plan

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  • Monday, April 9, 2012
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  • Eagle Siting
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  • The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) issued their official order based upon the February 23, 2012 hearing. AWA Goodhue cannot begin construction of their industrial wind project until the MPUC approves their ABPP.The language of the order not approving the Avian and Bat Protection Plan (ABPP), posted to the public e-dockets last Friday, comes as no surprise. 

    The only surprise has been that representatives of T. Boone Pickens AWA Goodhue industrial wind project have been telling citizens and landowners in the project area that they intend to go back to the MPUC with their ABPP next month, in May, three months after the hearing. Commissioners at the February hearing verbally instructed AWA to 'gather data and come back in a year'.  

    The Commissioners seemed well informed and thoughtful in their deliberations, and citizens appreciated their efforts. 

    Key excerpts for those new to the issue:

    "The Project area is located in the Mississippi Flyway, a geographic corridor used by migrating birds, which begins at the Gulf of Mexico and follows the Mississippi River in the United States to the Mackenzie River in Canada. In and near the Project area, numerous avian and bat species are present, including eagles, loggerhead shrike, trumpeter swans, and the northern long-eared bat. These and other migratory species are protected under state and federal legislation,..."

    "Section 13 of the site permit specifically addresses the monitoring of eagles, bats, and loggerhead shrike."

    "The Project will be located in an area of the Mississippi Flyway where the presence of bald eagles is significant and appears to be on the rise. The site permit therefore requires that eagle monitoring be conducted in close consultation with the Service, the agency charged with enforcing the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection act.  The law was originally enacted in 1940 and prohibits anyone from taking (including killing) an eagle without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior."

    "The Service stated that there are several outstanding material eagle issues..."

    AWA Goodhue was the first company in the nation to apply for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for bald eagles.  The company states they applied to Region 3 USFWS for an ITP on February 21, 2012.

    "The DNR expressed concern over the lack of multiple collision risk models, as recommended by the Service, and adaptive measures, such as food habitat modification, which attempts to limit food sources that attract eagles into project areas. The DNR stated that habitat modification could potentially cause negative impacts to other species relying on those food sources."

    "The DNR further stated that there appears to be some uncertainty about the number of active bald eagle nests (residents have claimed higher numbers of eagle nests in the area than AWA Goodhue claims), raising concern over whether all eagle nests have been adequately accounted for through siting."


    "Although AWA Goodhue stated that a significant amount of useful data [about long-eared bats] had been collected, members of the public and the DNR expressed concern about the missing data. The DNR stated that the majority of the season for collecting ideal results was missed and that consequently, comparative data between the years will also be missing."

    "The EFP concurred with the concerns over the missing data, stating that acoustic bat monitoring was recommended for the Project due to the presence of the northern long-eared bat (under consideration by the Service for listing as an Endangered Species) and due to suitable bat habitat in and near the Project area. "

    This last statement is also significant because it may represent the first time in four years that MN Department of Commerce EFP staff have ever agreed with anything citizens have stated.


    "For the reasons described above, the Commission finds that material issues relating to the protection of avian and bat species remain unresolved under this plan. The Commission will therefore decline to approve AWA Goodhue’s avian and bat protection plan as filed."


    1. The Commission hereby denies approval of the AWA Goodhue revised avian and bat protection plan.

    2. AWA Goodhue shall conduct the bat monitoring required under the site permit.

    3. AWA Goodhue shall conduct an additional season of acoustic bat monitoring in 2013 from July 1 to October 15 using the methods specified in site permit condition 13.1.2.

    4. This Order shall become effective immediately.


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