Target: Bob Abbey, Director of the United States Bureau of Land Management
Goal: Halt production on North Sky River wind project until a thorough review proves that it will not harm wildlife native to the area.
A trio of environmental groups—the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Sierra Club—have all filed suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management over a proposed wind-energy project slated for development in California’s Tehachapi region. As it now stands, NextEra Energy (the company behind the project) has already received the go-ahead from Kern County granting them permission to start building its North Sky River project. Yet according to the environmental organizations, the North Sky River project will have a devastating effect on populations of California birds, including the highly endangered California condors and golden eagles.
According to the suit, the Bureau of Land Management has acted against the laws set in place by the Endangered Species Act, a law that requires federal agencies “ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species.” Already a nearby wind-energy operation, the Pine Tree Wind Farm, has been under the microscope for its consistent connection to bird deaths in the area. In a 2011statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, concerning the Pine Tree Wind Farm: “The first full year of fatality monitoring resulted in an estimated 1,595 fatalities per year… [making it] among the highest fatality rates being recorded in the nation.”
Based on its proximity to the Pine Tree Wind Farm and its larger size, the North Sky River project has the potential to cause serious damage to the populations of birds in the area. While these conservation groups have a great track record of working with developers of renewable-energy (permitting about 2,600 megawatts of green energy since 2010), NextEra refuses to work with the groups in order to tweak its plans and accommodate for the native wildlife. Without these important modifications, chances are high that an even greater amount of fatalities will come as a result to the new North Sky River project.
Dear Mr. Abbey,
In light of the recent suit filed against the Bureau of Land Management by a trio of environmental groups, I urge you to rethink the decision made that has green-lighted production on the North Sky River project. Already the Tehachapi region of California has seen dramatic drops in native bird populations—a fact attributed to the existing Pine Tree Wind Farm. With the addition of another, and larger, wind-energy project it can be assured that the number of bird fatalities will continue to rise.
Birds like the vulnerable California condors and golden eagles will have their territory compromised and see their numbers decrease. Before we add extra risks to their survival, I urge you to work with groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Sierra Club to compromise on a plan that is in accordance with the Endangered Species Act, and will afford no harm to the birds of this region.
[Your name will go here]