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Energy Solutions

Utility Wind Energy: Bad News for Bears

Stormwater and habitat impacts of big wind projects can be huge

Image 1 of 3
A photo simulation of the wind project slated for construction in Lowell, Vermont. Although arguably majestic from afar, these wind turbines require a major road built over four miles of pristine ridgeline.
Image Credit: Green Mountain Power
A photo simulation of the wind project slated for construction in Lowell, Vermont. Although arguably majestic from afar, these wind turbines require a major road built over four miles of pristine ridgeline.
Image Credit: Green Mountain Power
Although the projects being built in Vermont have the required permits, it is hard to imagine that development of wilderness at this scale will not have a significant effect on stormwater and bear habitat.
Image Credit:
Black bears climb American beech trees (unfortunately, not the tree shown here) to chow down on beechnuts in early fall, in preparation for hibernation. Twenty-two acres of black bear habitat is being destroyed by the Lowell wind project.

Author’s Note: Please see the comment thread at the bottom of this article for more discussion on the width of the ridgeline road. Since posting this article I learned of other permitting documents indicating a much narrower road than discussed in this article.

One of my favorite pieces of Vermont trivia has been that the tallest man-made structure in the state is the Bennington Battle Monument, at 306 feet tall — and construction of it was completed in 1889.

I’m due for an update, however (and so is the Wikipedia entry on the monument). Since 1997, Vermont has had a major wind development in Searsburg, with turbines “only” 132 feet tall, but this summer First Wind has been installing 16 turbines, each 420 feet tall, on a Sheffield ridgeline in the Northeast Kingdom (read Sheffield resident Martin Holladay’s supportive post about these on

By next summer, 21 460-foot wind turbines are likely to be installed on four miles of ridgeline in Lowell as part of Green Mountain Power’s Kingdom Community Wind project.

We need nonpolluting energy

I would consider myself open-minded about wind power. I believe we need nonpolluting sources of energy to wean ourselves from fossil fuels and to stave off climate change. On the other hand, I’ve heard that wind developments can have a surprisingly big impact on the environment.

To understand this issue better, I spoke this morning with Steve Wright. Steve is the former president of Sterling College, and was the Commissioner of Vermont Fish and Wildlife under Governor Kunin. Recently he has been volunteering as a liaison for the Town of Craftsbury in the permitting process for the Lowell wind project. Although the project is located in Lowell, the neighboring towns of Craftsbury and Albany have been very concerned about impacts to their towns from the development, as well as statewide effects.

Turbines require roads — big roads

What impacts? When viewed from afar, many people thing that large wind turbines look picturesque, even inspiring. It would be easy to imagine that those turbines were planted in the ground like trees from some sort of giant helicopter, with no effect on the surrounding area.

Not so. The road you have to build to get the turbine there, and building infrastructure like transmission lines, has a huge effect. “There is a huge difference between planting a turbine in a cornfield next to a residence, versus putting a turbine on a ridgeline where there are no roads and no transmission lines, which is the case with most of Vermont’s ridgelines,” says Wright.

According to Wright, who quoted permitting documents to give me these figures, the Lowell project will require an access road of between 190 and 215 feet in width along four miles of ridgeline. Then, at each turbine, an additional 190 feet must be cleared in a circle for the crane to be able to turn around it and do its work.

An Interstate highway on a mountain ridgeline

Given the density at which the turbines are being placed, this amounts to 400 feet of road running almost continuously across what is now an untouched ridgeline. Like any highway, this one will require extensive blasting and flattening to provide the required access.

For comparison, one lane of I-91 is 12 feet wide, meaning that 33 lanes would fit into this “access road.” That doesn’t include additional access roads and clearing performed for transmission lines.

According to Wright, there are basically three permitting bodies that a project like the one in Lowell has to go through: the Public Service Board, the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), and the federal government, in the form of the Army Corps of Engineers. The Lowell project has cleared the first two hurdles.

Can our stormwater systems handle the runoff?

Having just been through Hurricane Irene, and the massive and destructive flooding that it brought to Vermont, I am acutely aware of the natural flow of water through our mountainous landscapes, and how water can build and lead to flooding, erosion, and sedimentation patterns that would be difficult to imagine in drier times. Much of the reaction after the flooding has focused on lost homes and destroyed highways, but fish and wildlife are adversely affected when streams, pools, and other waterways fill up with silt and when riparian habitat is washed away.

I asked Wright how building four miles of Interstate highway on top of a ridgeline — a rocky environment exposed to plenty of rain, and upstream of hundreds of square miles of streams, pools, culverts, bridges, and roads — could be deemed safe by ANR with respect to flooding risk.

Dueling experts disagree

Wright depicted the permitting process as involving “Two sets of dueling experts who come together and see who has the most people standing, once they have tried to cut each other into pieces.” The result? “We felt that we proved that the engineering design was unworkable and then we reinforced that with the opinion of a disinterested third party, but even then the ANR rejected our findings and approved the project.”

To be clear, Wright noted that neither he nor the towns that he is working with, Craftsbury and Albany, are opposed to the Lowell project. “We never said that we don’t want the development. We have said that you had better take care of our interests and concerns.”

For its part, GMP’s FAQ section on its website emphasizes on the wind project’s website that the project has passed the required environmental impact review:

What environmental impacts will result from the installation of Kingdom Community Wind?

The project’s developers, state and federal environmental experts and regulators have closely studied the potential impacts of the project. All necessary environmental permits must be received and complied with, as well as additional conditions placed on KCW as a result of its certificate of public good (CPG) issued by the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB). With those requirements, including mitigation plans for known impacts, the regulators have determined that KCW poses no undue adverse impacts to the environment.

I don’t think they answered the question — do you? The question that was asked as about “impacts.” The question that was answered was about  “undue adverse impacts” as defined narrowly by lawyers.

Black bears need beechnuts

What about the interests of other Vermonters — black bears, among them? “Loss of wildlife habitat” is so abstract — but Wright explained to me exactly what that means.

Right about now, in early fall as black bears are getting ready for hibernation, beech stands at high elevations are an important source for protein. Although they are still in a a milky, unhardened state, beechnuts are forming now in abundant clusters in healthy, high-quality stands. Bears climb the trees, often quite a ways up, gather up clusters of nuts in “brooms” and chew them down.

The developer in Lowell plans to destroy 22 acres of “high quality” American beech growth for the access road up from Route 100. ANR approved a deal in which they preserved about 500 acres of land in a different location, but according to Wright, this land contains much lower-quality beech forest.

Learning everything I’ve shared with you here has been enough to give me serious pause in considering wind development. Is it hypocritical for environmentalists to oppose wind? We do need clean energy, right? Exploring that issue will require another column, however. In the meantime, send your comments and questions on monuments, ridgelines, bears, beeches, and anything else from today.

Image 2 (below) comes from a Picasa Web photo album; to see more of these photos of the Sheffield wind development under construction, click here.

Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions.


  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    What do the roads look like?
    It has been disappointing to see that wind turbine opponents in Vermont have been exaggerating the negative impacts of wind turbine development. These exaggerations show up in your blog. I also heard similar exaggerations when I participated in a recent public debate on the topic with Ben Luce, an opponent of wind energy in Vermont.

    One of the most frequently heard exaggerations is the supposed need for Interstate-highway scale road construction. In your blog, you write that "Turbines require roads — big roads," and you refer to the need to build "an Interstate highway on a mountain ridgeline." You wrote that preparing road access to install wind turbines "will require extensive blasting and flattening to provide the required access."

    All of the turbine components installed at the First Wind development in Sheffield, Vermont -- including the tower sections, the turbines, the turbine blades, and the cranes required to raise the turbines -- traveled along Duck Pond Road. Some of the components were brought on this road from the Sheffield side, and others were brought from the Barton side.

    I've lived in the area since 1975, and I'm quite familiar with Duck Pond Road. It is a typical Vermont gravel road, big enough for two pickup trucks to pass each other. Although the First Wind developers had to trim some branches and improve a few ditches, they did not significantly change the road. It looks about the same way it has always looked, and it looks similar to the road I live on, and similar to dozens of other gravel roads in our town. I'll post photos of what Duck Pond Road looks like below this comment.

    Clearly, this is not an Interstate highway. Remember, these components were delivered on flat-bed trucks -- basically, 18-wheelers. They are big trucks, but no bigger than trucks you see every day.

    Ironically, there IS an Interstate highway that cuts through the high-altitude ridgeline of Sheffield Heights -- the same ridgeline that wind opponents are so worried about. The Interstate is I-91, and it's been there since the early 1970s. The Interstate highway cuts right across the top of Sheffield Heights, only a few hundred yards from the wind turbine site.

    The area affected by I-91 is orders of magnitude larger than any disruption that could be blamed on the trimming of branches on Duck Pond Road, or on the development necessary to install 16 turbines. But many Vermonters -- including wind opponents -- drive on I-91 every day without bothering to erect protest banners at the exit ramps.

    Here are photos of Duck Pond Road I took yesterday. This is the road used to bring all of the wind turbine components to Sheffield Heights.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Powerline development
    Your blog also raises the specter of damage related to powerline development: "clearing performed for transmission lines." On Sheffield Heights, there will, of course, be some land required for a power substation and electrical lines connecting the turbines to the grid. But the powerline that is being used by First Wind has been there for decades.

    One reason that the wind developers chose this location is because an existing powerline already crossed the ridgeline -- right where the turbines were installed.

    I'll post a photo of this powerline under this comment. It's true that trees were cut to install this powerline, but as I said, it's been here for decades, and looks no different from all of the other high-voltage transmission lines in the state. Everyone who uses grid-powered electricity depends on powerlines like this one. And the wind developers aren't responsible for the clearing associated with this line -- it was already there.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    About the Picasa Web photos
    The Picasa Web photo album includes a lot of raw-looking photos of areas cleared by a bulldozer. I am familiar with the site shown in the photos; it now includes a gravel parking lot for construction workers, some Porta-Potties, about 7 or 8 construction trailers, and a steel equipment shed. An electrical substation (outdoor transformers behind a chain-link fence) is being built nearby.

    Yes, it looks raw. (Right now, however, it looks nowhere near as raw as it did in the photos taken in May. I was there yesterday.) But anyone familiar with commercial construction will be familiar with the steps undertaken by the construction workers there. Once construction is complete, the trailers and Porta-Potties and temporary parking lot will no longer be necessary, and much of the raw appearance will be corrected with top soil, grass seed, and mulch.

    This type of construction -- bulldozers creating a gravel parking lot -- is not comparable to a GE factory releasing PCBs into the Hudson River, or Vermont Yankee releasing radioactive material into the groundwater. It's just normal commercial construction.

    Of course, the wind opponents will point out that this gravel parking lot is on the top of a mountain. Yes, that's true. But we have lots of examples of high-altitude development in Vermont. Jay Peak has a restaurant on top. (So does Mount Washington.) Burke Mountain has a TV transmission tower that broadcasts Vermont Public Television, so all of the wind opponents can watch British comedies. Mount Mansfield has cell towers, so all of the wind opponents can call each other up from the supermarket. And dozens of Vermont mountains are scarred by ski trails punctuated by ski-lift towers.

    Anyone who wanted to could buy 200 acres along Duck Pond Road and engage in clear-cut logging. That happens all the time in Vermont. Moreover, residential development continues throughout Vermont. Anyone who wants to can buy a residential lot along Duck Pond Road, and keep a pack of dogs in the back yard. Those dogs don't help bears any more than wind turbines do. Moreover, highway development -- including the construction of I-91 and I-89 -- gobbled up far more land, in a manner that created far greater disruption to populations of bears and other wildlife -- than the infinitesimally smaller impact of the First Wind development in Sheffield.

    The point about development is that it happens, and we need to be smart about it. We need to describe it accurately -- something your blog fails to do. I know that I won't win any argument in which my opponent posts a photo of a bear cub. Once a bear cub photo is posted, the opponent has already lost.

    Here's the thing about bear habitat: where will we get our electricity? Coal mining hurts bears. Coal burning hurts bears. Hydroelectric development hurts bears. Even large solar farms hurt bears. And one more thing that hurts bears: global climate change. Sadly, I doubt whether there will be many beech trees left in Vermont in 50 years, so any bears that survive here will probably need to learn to eat something else besides beech nuts.

    As far as I know from my research, no other type of renewable energy development has a lower environmental impact than wind energy.

  4. Tristan Roberts | | #4

    ridgeline road
    Martin, let's be clear about what I am suggesting in my post and what I am not suggesting. Your responses to my post seem to be more about things I am not suggesting, as opposed to what I am.

    I did not suggest that local roads like your Duck Pond will be widened to Interstate-like scale to accommodate turbine delivery. Based on KCW's permit application, I suggested that a 400-foot-wide road will be built across the top of the ridge in Lowell to accommodate turbine installation. Do you have reason to believe that's not accurate?

    Based on that, I question whether KCW has an adequate plan to mitigate stormwater effects of such a significant increase in impervious surfaces, and such a change in drainage patterns. I am not making up these concerns—they are voiced by the towns of Craftsbury and Albany, who will face many of the project's impacts without a direct share in the financial benefits.

    What are your thoughts on the 22 acres of prime bear habitat? You imply that I am exaggerating negative implications of wind development, but you do not speak to this issue (except through negative comments about my rhetorical crime of picturing a bear), nor to the stormwater issue. What is being exaggerated?

    Can environmentalists and local interests really be blamed for not protesting the way things are? I-91 is a fait accompli; the existing transmission lines are likewise. Anyone standing at the exit ramp to protest them would be fairly called nutters. But when permits are being granted for new development that will impact our communities, that is a time when it makes sense to stand up and ask questions.

    When I-91 was proposed and built, it was protested and local influences did shape its development. I don't have the primary historical documents to prove this, but the oral history here in southern Vermont is that the inefficient bends that I-91 takes around Brattleboro (see map) are the result of property owners and other local interests who refused to see it go through treasured parks and farmland.

    Are the impacts of wind development equal on all sites: a high ridgeline in Vermont, a cornfield (former prairie) in Nebraska, or offshore of Cape Cod? One could be excused for asking whether location matters.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    Response to Tristan
    I cannot pretend to be an expert on the Lowell development. However, I am quite familiar with the Sheffield project, since I live nearby. Your blog discusses the Sheffield project, and implies that Interstate-wide highway development is necessary for wind projects. I have watched the Sheffield project closely, and I know that such highway development hasn't been necessary in Sheffield, because I've seen the project with my own eyes.

    Let's hope that the Lowell developers are as smart as the developers in Sheffield. I would be absolutely astonished if a 400-foot-wide highway were necessary in Lowell to bring tower components, turbines, turbine blades, and cranes to the mountain construction site. First Wind managed to bring all of these pieces of equipment to the Sheffield site using existing gravel roads (plus a few access roads to the site itself) -- so why would the Lowell developers need such an unimaginable highway?

    You're right that concerns have been voiced in Lowell and Craftsbury and Albany. I'm saying that some of the concerns that have been raised are exaggerated.

    You're right that I am implying that your article includes exaggerations. What I meant was that you are exaggerating the road size necessary for wind development.

    I think that the loss of 22 acres of bear habitat would be unfortunate. The fact is, though, that such losses occur in Vermont all the time -- when 22 new homes are built, for example, or when a logger decides to engage in a 200-acre clearcut. Right in my town, I've seen many clearcuts that exceed 22 acres. It's legal, and it happens all the time.

    I'm challenging you to come up with a proposal to generate utility-scale energy in a way that causes less harm than wind development.

  6. Tristan Roberts | | #6

    response to Martin
    I repeat, my article does not suggest that Interstate highways are needed to reach the site. It says that the wide access road is needed to install and maneuver around the turbines on the ridgeline itself:

    According to Wright, who quoted permitting documents to give me these figures, the Lowell project will require an access road of between 190 and 215 feet in width along four miles of ridgeline. Then, at each turbine, an additional 190 feet must be cleared in a circle for the crane to be able to turn around it and do its work.

    Talk to any forester or wildlife management expert: 22 acres in one site is not equivalent to 22 acres in another location. In the case of Lowell, we are talking about 22 specific acres with high-quality American beech stands. As Vermonters who spend time outdoors, I'm sure we can agree that stands of large, healthy beech trees are a far cry from the more common stands of scraggly ones attached by beech scale.

    If we tallied up all the land being clearcut for this project, it would be a lot more than 22 acres. I think skeptics about this project are being measured in focusing on that piece. There are many laws and regulations in Vermont that restrict development and wanton clearcutting, and those regulations are in play here. Some of the very same ones are in play (for example, tax codes requiring agricultural land to have a valid forest management plan) in the other scenarios you describe—it's false to imply that this 22 acres is getting special attention. Those regulations aren't perfect environmentally and they aren't ironclad, but they weren't invented for the Lowell wind project, just because someone showed up at a hearing with a photo of a bear cub (which I'm not suggesting happened).

    I am very interested in finding the lowest-impact ways to generate utility-scale power, and will continue to research that. Next week in this space you'll see me discuss how using natural gas in place of coal may not help at all with global warming. Today, in this post, I simply undertake to examine some of the impacts of one specific development. Do you object?

  7. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #7

    No, I don't object
    Of course I don't object to your discussion of this issue. In fact, I welcome it.

    The bottom line is that these wind developments will affect bear habitat -- but nowhere near as much as many much larger projects in Vermont, notably our Interstate highways.

    I'm all in favor of protecting bear habitat, and when I walk in the woods near my house I'm always on the lookout for bear claw marks on beech trees. I've seen bears several times in my neighborhood, and it's always a thrill. Let's all work to help preserve bear habitat.

    Wind development requires land, and such development inevitably affects wildlife. But so does all human activity -- especially all other forms of electricity generation. We all need to find ways to reduce our impact on the environment. That may mean putting up with smaller (and slower) roads, building smaller houses, reducing sprawl by siting new residential developments in urban areas, and finding ways to burn less coal.

  8. user-984364 | | #8

    It makes sense to evaluate the impacts
    Gentlemen, if I may intrude on your conversation.... :)

    It certainly makes sense to evaluate the impacts of any project like this. Anything we do at scale has consequences, and often ones we don't foresee. Sometimes we have to pick the "least worst."

    But we also need to be as accurate about those impacts as we can be - saying "An Interstate highway on a mountain ridgeline" seems inflammatory to me. An Interstate highway implies all sorts of things that this road does not seem to be.

    If, in fact, a 200-foot-wide road is planned, it certainly seems reasonable to ask "why?" - as you say, one lane of an interstate highway is 12 feet wide. I see turbine parts traveling I80 in Iowa all the time, and I can assure you that they managed to fit just fine in a lane width, or slightly more. If 10x that width is really planned across this ridgeline that seems odd, and certainly worth asking about, and even challenging.

    I'd also be curious to know what the longer-term plans are for the access. Will that access (roads and circles) be maintained at that width, or replanted post-construction to some degree?

  9. gusfhb | | #9

    I think what Martin is asking for is a little intellectual rigor when throwing numbers around. 190 foot wide road, really. Does it seem likely that the tower company is going to want to pay for that? I assume that the number comes from somewhere, but if it is a a 'real' number it more than likely relates to conservation rules or right of way rules or some other abstraction, not an actual roadway width, and to make the statement without asking that simple question implies a bias more consistent with coal mine stock holder than a green advocate.

    Large corporations are getting very good at using 'greenies' to their advantage. They have teamed up with radical environmentalists to commoditize fisheries in the northeast. Keep your eyes on that one over the next decade.

    One should always think about who benefits from opposition to things[like wind power]

    Tristan's blog, IMHO does not show the healthy skepticism that should be shown on both sides of any argument

  10. KLdPG3vBKe | | #10

    transporting turbine components
    Greetings, All. Thanks for the discussion. Regarding the width of roads, consider that one turbine blade is as much as 184 feet long--that's the height of a 17 story building. The trucks that carry these are much longer than a standard 18-wheeler. Width is not a problem on the interstate, but mountain roads, unlike interstates, have switchbacks and turns. These trucks require a huge turning radius, thus the width of the mountain road in some places. Photos below to give a sense of the size--I saw these last Dec while traveling in PA. There are many images and videos on youTube as well.

  11. Tristan Roberts | | #11

    road figures
    Thanks to Keith and others for comments. I think this post is presented clearly and honestly as an exploration of specific impacts of the Lowell project. I make no pretense that I have thoroughly investigated every angle on this project nor do I attempt to present it as a net environmental good or bad. Sometimes it is simply appropriate to explore a point of view and findings of fact. As an example, Martin recently wrote a piece on wind power that I would describe as a personal musing based on firsthand observations of a certain scope, not an objective investigation. I applaud that piece, as did many readers on GBA.

    I do need to make a correction/clarification. The "permitting documents" that Wright quoted were part of the permitting process, but were documents filed by the Green Mountain Club, which supports the project contingent on mitigation of impacts. You can read a key document here: Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and decide for yourself how to best describe the road that is expected across the ridgeline. More documents are available on the Energize Vermont website, and elsewhere.

    I stand by my description of the road's width. I am not as clear as I would like to be on how much of that width will be leveled and occupied by road and how much will be "merely" cleared (there is ambiguity on that point in the documents, and in the end we may need to wait and see), but it is undeniable that the terrain of the ridgeline will be permanently altered on a large scale.

  12. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #12

    Green Mountain Club brief
    Thanks for providing the Green Mountain Club brief.

    After reading the document, it seems clear that you have simply misread it. The document does not support the claim made in your blog that "the Lowell project will require an access road of between 190 and 215 feet in width along four miles of ridgeline." You have confused a description of the width of the area being cleared (that is, logged) with the width of the road.

    The document states, "As proposed the cleared area would be 190 to 215 feet in width along the entire crane path..."

    "Clearing" refers to tree-cutting, not road-building.

  13. user-984364 | | #13

    Good point about the turns
    Laura, I hadn't thought about turning radius. :)

    I did look for the Searsburg ridge site mentioned, and you can see it on google maps. It doesn't seem to switch back (edit: well, not much), but then that's another site.

    I realize I'm just talking out of my hat here, but if a primary concern is the size of the road (and not just the existence of the road) then it seems worth looking into where that 200 foot wide requirement comes from, to understand just what is being proposed.

  14. Tristan Roberts | | #14

    response to Martin
    Martin, I see more ambiguity than you do—the document says different things in different places. Page 5, paragraph 10 refers to roads over 200 feet in width, along with clearings up to 450 feet in width. The extent to which "flattening" accompanies clearing is also unclear. In places on the ridgeline, there will be clearing up to 600 feet in width. There was recently a transmission line widening here in Windham County that I suspect would have been referred to as tree-cutting by a utility, but that also involved stumping and grading well beyond the access road to create a uniform approach.

    I concede that a graveled road is unlikely to be as wide as i originally suggested, but it appears that it will be very wide, and that Green Mountain Power has significant leeway to clear, level, and gravel as needed—in a sensitive ridgeline environment.

  15. wjrobinson | | #15

    Solution. Eat the bears that
    Solution. Eat the bears that used to eat the beech nuts that used to stand in the way of power for our bear meat cooktops. Don't be horrified of this statement if you ate a cow this week or a pig last week or a cute little salmon fishy that looks like the big brother to your daughter's gold fish!

    Two faced politics. Two faced environmentalism. Not in my back yardism!

  16. wjrobinson | | #16

    Replacement bears if you want
    Replacement bears if you want them please come get them. Here in Kinnelon, NJ, we have way too many of these cute critters. They sneak up on contractors and scare the bear sized scat out of at least one you all know....

    Come get them. They are not used to eating beech nuts, just provide the ridgeline with your garbage cans. They prefer bear proof as they are more challenging to open but oh do they open them. (They haven't picked up on soduko it seems)

  17. wjrobinson | | #17

    Irene. Strange how tree
    Irene. Strange how tree huggers don't notice how mommy nature in 12 hours makes a mess 10,000 times larger than we builders all combined do over an entire lifetime of building.

    Like I say and will continue to say....

    Problems create what? Economy! Need! The need for solutions. That leads to work... Jobs folks. Coin in our pockets to buy more bear meat for the stovetop that runs off the wind blowing past Bear Top mountain where the cute beech trees are starting to grow back to feed the next generation of cute bear cubs that we can picture post on our VT bear blog while enjoying a nice slice of sirloin cow muscle.....

    Lucky for you all, I am just about done eating one of the three little cute piggies behind... And some prebirth birds prepared easy over today... Worky work time.

  18. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #18

    Sophomoric nonsense
    I feel bound to alert new GBA readers to the fact that AJ's comments on wildlife protection do not reflect the views of most GBA readers or editors.

  19. wjrobinson | | #19

    Martin. You are narrowly
    Martin. You are so narrowly focused on issues that understanding my posts apparently from your last post is not possible. Tell me the tiny impact of man clearing said 4 mile ridgeline scientifically is even measurable in relation to the Irene modification of square miles of VT.

    You are on Triston's case for ignoring facts, inflating and inflaming an issue. And now you post such nonsense avoiding the real facts and truths I laid out????!!

    Rubbish. Fight facts with facts Martin.

    Save a beechnut. Eat a bear.

  20. GBA Editor
    Patrick Mccombe | | #20

    Power has to come from somewhere.
    Our modern lives require electricty. Making it requires sacrifices to our natural landscape. Whether it's hydroelectric, which means dammed rivers and 1000's of flooded acres in Northern Quebec, nuclear with it's risk of melt-down and waste that's dangerous for thousands of years, coal that despoils our mountains, chokes our rivers with sediment and kills our forests with acid rain, gas extraction that contaminates aquifers, thay all have an environmental cost. The question should be, which of these generation methods is doing the least harm. In my opinion, wind isn't too bad, even with roads and loss of habitat.

  21. stuccofirst | | #21

    lesser of evils
    IMO the temporary impact of wind turbine installation is far less than any impact imparted by coal, hydropower, or natural gas. I live near the catskills, and currently, there is a battle with the gas companies who want to come in and start drilling the pristine habitat. They hydrofrack, which means inevitably dumping chemically rich water into the fresh water system. Felled Beechnut trees can always be replanted. Habitat can be replenished with the added bonus of non-combustion electrical power.

  22. Brian Knight | | #22

    Forest from the trees..literally!
    Its amazing that wind power can be so polarizing especially to environmentalists. I see wind opponents falling into two main categories:

    1. "not in my backyard " These people generally dont care about their environment or community, they just dont want their view to change.
    2. Environmentalists who have trouble seeing the bigger picture.

    Its great to explore, question and challenge the details of any type of development. For the most part however, environmentalists should be embracing wind development on east coast ridge lines. Its much more efficient to produce power close to the population and the great plains wind energy does little for us here on the east coast.

    East coast ridge lines have ideal conditions for wind energy. The problem is that they are largely undeveloped. Doing so is going to have negative impacts. Those impacts will be less than not doing so.

    I have always considered myself opposed to ANY type of development. After walking the Appalachian trail from Maine to Georgia however, I experienced first hand that these undeveloped mountain ridge tops are sick and dying. The ridges that should be safe, are actually more exposed to the acidifying effects of air pollution and acid rain. These effects are subtle and very hard to prove but many scientists looking at the problems on these ridge tops feel that its due to their high exposure to air pollution from our coal fired power plants. Coal energy is acidifying and adding heavy metals to our soil, streams, and oceans. Coal is destroying not 22 acres, not "x" amount of clearing but millions of acres. By opposing wind energy you are supporting coal.

    Since pictures are so persuasive, how about a few for the main alternative to wind energy. Mtn top removal and the scenes like the picture below has happened to an area the size of Delaware and are exponentially increasing. The last pic is from the devastation caused in 2008 by a coal ash spill into the emory and tennessee rivers. Again, its great to question the impacts of wind development but environmentalists really need to see the big picture here.

  23. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #23

    Thanks, Brian
    Excellent points. I agree.

  24. wjrobinson | | #24

    Brian Knight, we here in the
    Brian Knight, we here in the Adirondacks have the same acid issues. Good post and pics. Glad you see as I do and are more able to have Martin understand your way of posting such. Just back from NJ where the bears out number the people in the development that I work in. Want to see bears... Just head to NJ and try to work on shoring up a bridge over a stream, they walk by twice a day!

  25. Brian Knight | | #25

    Thanks AJ, we have plenty ourselves and I agree that they are delicious. Iam ashamed to admit that I actually hit one last year driving through some thick, acid fog.

  26. Tristan Roberts | | #26

    enviromental violations
    MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A stop-work order has been issued for construction on the Lowell Mountain wind power project because of possible environmental violations, a top Vermont official said Friday.

    Full story:

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