Bird protectionists take legal action against Lake Erie wind project

Lake Erie Frozen. Author: Teknorat. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

December 13 (Renewables Now) - Bird conservation groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the 20.7-MW Icebreaker offshore wind project in Lake Erie.

The suit has been filed by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) against the US Department of Energy and US Army Corps of Engineers. In it, the conservationists claim that the federal agency has not managed to “adequately” assess the project’s potential impacts on the environment during its evaluation, thus failing to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Clean Water Act.

ABC said earlier this week that the proposed wind turbines near the coast of Cleveland “would pose substantial collision risks” to the multiple species of birds in the area. Additionally, the water in the region where those species live could be polluted due to the increased vessel traffic during the power plant’s construction, it said, insisting that the US  Department of Energy completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a comprehensive cumulative impacts analysis.

The US Army Corps of Engineer awarded the Icebreaker project a construction permit in March, while DOE ruled a few months earlier that the proposal would not have any significant impact on the environment and migratory birds, issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

Proposed by Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), the scheme will create the first freshwater offshore wind farm in North America. If approved, its construction could begin by 2021, the developer said previously.

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Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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