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Hot Topic: Wind Turbines on Lake Erie

Author: Janet Lenichek, Executive Committee, Sierra Club Niagara Group

Republicans Lynne Dixon and John Mills have submitted a resolution to the Erie Co. Legislature to BAN all wind turbine projects either in Lake Erie or along the shores of Lake Erie in Erie County. Diamond Energy has been doing some exploratory meetings, etc. to determine if they want to propose a wind turbine project off the shores of Erie County. There is no official project yet.

Despite this, Republicans want to completely stop any possibility of such developments. A small, vocal group of citizens who reside in the Town of Evans are in favor of this outright ban. The Sierra Club, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and organized labor in the construction trades are opposed to an outright ban or blanket moratorium on wind turbines. They would like to have the County and State of NY review each project that is proposed and wait until the environmental and economic studies are completed (as par of the Article 10 process) before decisions are made either way about siting of wind turbine projects. This is a controversial topic, but the public is largely unaware of the debate.

Further insight into the issue:

Wind power, on land and offshore, is an essential part of meeting this goal. Renewable energy is required to curb the climate crisis and to end the harmful effects to climate and health of fossil fuel power plants.

There is a very preliminary exploration by a wind developer to construct wind turbines far offshore in Lake Erie. Erie County Legislators Dixon and Mills propose an Erie County Legislature resolution that it is “opposed to the construction of wind turbines along the shores of Lake Erie” before any project has been proposed and any of the required environmental studies have been conducted.

We will ask the Legislature to delay any action until a wind project plan is announced and the required environmental studies are completed.

A pilot wind project near Cleveland, Ohio, miles offshore in Lake Erie, has passed these reviews and will provide useful information for our region of the lake. Radar and aviation studies in Ohio and the NY City shores show that offshore wind is not a security threat. All site plans must be approved by the Department of Defense.

Wind turbines would be miles offshore and would not affect views or property values.

Wind turbine construction would have no effect on drinking water quality and present construction does not involve harmful noise or disruption of the lake bed.

Wind turbines do not leak oil into the water.

Wildlife studies must be conducted on proposed sites, but previous studies indicate no harmful effects, in contrast to the harm from lake pollution, habitat loss and climate change caused by fossil fuels.

What: Members of the Sierra Club, organized labor, and youth climate activists will speak prior to attending an Erie County Legislature hearing on resolutions to ban wind power projects in Lake Erie.

When and Where: Thursday, 9/19/2019, 1:00 PM. Rath Building steps 95 Franklin St, facing Erie County Hall, 92 Franklin St.

Who? Environmental activists, Organized Labor Leaders and Youth of Erie County organized by the WNY Climate Council.

Why? New York State’s goal, signed into law in July 2019, requires transition of the State’s electrical power generation to 70% renewable sources by 2035 and 85% or more by 2050.

Photo by Muhammad Taufik

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