January 6, 2010

Endangered Species Act, flawed federal court decision used to stop alternative energy project

By Endangered Species Act, flawed federal court decision used to stop alternative energy project

Author: Brandon Middleton

Recall that last month a federal court halted a West Virginia wind energy project based on threats the project posed to the endangered Indiana bat. The court's decision was issued despite the facts that an Indiana bat had never been seen on the project site and that the bat caves of concern were located more than five miles from the nearest project turbine.

Although the Indiana bat decision, Animal Welfare Institute v. Beech Ridge Energy, is significantly flawed (for reasons I discussed here), that hasn't stopped environmental groups from using it to prevent other wind projects from going forward. In this letter, attorney James W. Jennings, Jr. writes on behalf of concerned citizens of Highland County and demands that county officials force Highland New Wind Development to go through the burdensome Endangered Species Act incidental take permitting process before letting HNWD's energy project go forward: 

Our clients expect that the County will heed the clear and unequivocal message of Beech Ridge Energy, LLC and enforce the terms of its [county permit] prohibiting HNWD from proceeding until they have applied for an ITP.  If they do not, then our clients will follow the example set by the plaintiffs in Beech Ridge Energy, LLC and seek an injunction under the ESA in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Harrisonburg Division.

Thanks to Virginia Wind for the pointer.

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