Letter to the Editor: Clarification from the North Shore Bird Club

I would like to clarify my position as represented by your reporter, Rebecca Cohen, in the April 15 Daily Northwestern article “Environmental, affordability concerns raised for offshore wind turbines.”

At the April 13 City Council meeting, I was speaking as a representative of the Bird Conservation Network, of which the Evanston North Shore Bird Club is a member. The Bird Conservation Network, a coalition of bird clubs and individuals interested in bird conservation, has adopted a position paper “applauding efforts toward green energy sources.”

Our position is that a well-designed wind farm has to take birds into account. Original research assessing the appropriateness of this particular site must address not only the effects of a wind farm on bird migration, which blankets Lake Michigan, but also the effect on the habitat of the ducks that live on Lake Michigan year-round near the proposed location. Research on other wind farms does not apply because, as I pointed out in my testimony, each wind farm is unique.

Ironically, I began my remarks by specifically stating that Council members, knowing I was representing wind groups, might be surprised that I was not going to talk about the possibility that birds would be killed by a potential wind farm. Nor did I say I support the wind farm. The article said that “although she supports the project, she worries about the number of birds the turbines’ blades will kill.”

I handed a statement to Council members augmenting my comments that, among other concerns, the following considerations about habitat and migration be articulated in the environmental section in the RFI: How do birds use Lake Michigan in winter? What constitutes good habitat for the ducks in the lake? Is there a best zone and design that will avoid collisions? How can the impact (or lack of impact) of wind turbines on birds be documented on water?

This is easy to do on land but will be a research challenge on water.

The final version of the RFI, I hope, will include a request for these answers, among others. I support research. As I pointed out in my testimony, by doing thorough research, Evanston will point the way toward responsible green energy.

– Libby HallVice President, Evanston North Shore Bird Club