Highland New Wind Notified of Intent to Sue

. . . we hereby provide notice, pursuant to section 11(g) of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1540(g), that Highland New Wind Development’s (“HNWD”) installation and long-term operation of wind turbines on multiple ridges in Highland County, Virginia will “take” federally endangered Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) and Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) in violation of section 9 of the ESA. Id. § 1538(a)(1)(B).” Meyer Glitizenstein & Crystal, 051410

Concerned citizens and conservationists have joined with the Animal Welfare Institute and the public-interest law firm, Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal, to notify Highland New Wind Development, LLC and the Highland County Board of Supervisors of their intent to sue if HNWD proceeds with turbine construction in defiance of the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this year HNWD “promised” the county supervisors that it would obtain the required Incidental Take Permit (ITP). Spokesmen for HNWD, however, have recently indicated that the company will begin construction without an ITP.

Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal is a Washington, DC -based law firm specializing in wildlife and environmental protection, with an emphasis on the Endangered Species Act.

Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal secured a precedent-setting federal court ruling in December of 2009 that required the Invenergy-Beech Ridge Wind Project in Greenbrier County, WV to obtain an Incidental Take Permit based on concerns about one of the two endangered bat species threatened by the HNWD project.

The notice letter submitted to HNWD and the county supervisors states:

“HNWD’s proposed wind project, as currently planned, will almost certainly result in the incidental taking of endangered Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats – an action which has not been permitted by the FWS through the section 10 ITP process. Given the presence of multiple hibernacula within migratory distance of the project site including the most important Indiana bat and Virginia big-eared bat hibernaculum in the region (Hellhole Cave), the migratory distances of the listed species, the availability of potential roost trees and edge habitat on and surrounding the project site, the unprecedented numbers of bats killed at nearby wind facilities via turbine collisions and barotrauma, and the unusually high numbers of migratory birds and bats found in the fall 2005 radar study conducted by HNWD’s consultant, it is inevitable that the Highland wind project will result in the incidental taking of Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats by killing, injuring, and/or wounding members of those species via turbine collision and barotrauma.

. . . The only way for HNWD to ensure that it will not unlawfully take members of these species, and therefore avoid an enforcement action from the FWS, or a citizen suit brought by the above-named organizations and citizens, is to apply for an incidental take permit from the FWS pursuant to section 10 of the ESA. Similarly, the HCBOS can only avoid ESA liability by withholding its grant of a building permit until and unless HNWD obtains an ITP.”