Altamont Winds told the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in an email Oct. 23 that it is ceasing operations as of Sunday.
The decision was applauded by environmental groups, which for years have been fighting to build awareness around the large numbers of golden eagles, raptors, burrowing owls and other birds that are killed by turbines.
“It’s a really big deal,” said Michael Lynes, director of public policy for Audubon California. “(Altamont Winds) is the second-largest operator in the Altamont, and they were doggedly continuing to use those old turbines that we know have a disproportionately high rate of mortality.”
Altamont Winds did not return calls for comment.
A turkey vulture flies among dormant wind turbines in the Altamont area of Contra Costa County on May 8, 2015. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)
Altamont Winds Vice President Bill Damon wrote in the email to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service that “the reduction of avian impacts” was the primary reason for the company to discontinue its Altamont operations.
The shutdown was a surprise, as Altamont had earlier this year received an extension to operate until 2018, which frustrated environmentalists.
The ERT re-convened at 10 am today at Demorestville Town Hall. After much procedural wrangling about the documents that were disclosed by Karen Bellamy finally Ms. Bellamy’s cross examination was begun in the late morning. There was a discussion about how to deal with the vast amount of material that had been disclosed. Normally each item would be entered as an exhibit as it was discussed with the witness, but this was deemed to be a cumbersome method in this case. It was decided to get started and see how things went. Mr. Wright was quite insistent that it was necessary to get on with the cross examination. Eric Gillespie started through the 1500 documents that were disclosed. Most of the information that Eric was taking Ms. Bellamy to was about the process of how the Endangered Species Act was to be implemented and the plans for the Impact Management Plan. It became obvious that the approach of going through 1500 documents one by one was not a productive exercise. Eric suggested – with the agreement of Ms. Davis and Ms. Kromkamp that the documents could be grouped into categories and that a representative document or two from each category would provide the information he wanted to relay to the Tribunal. Over the lunch break we went through the three volumes of documents and categorized them into groups such as: articles that could be removed from the record; articles that had been previously referred to, and a broad category of newspaper articles, power points, draft ESA permits and EBR postings and a group of unclassified emails.
The gist of Eric Gillespie’s argument was that the documents showed clear indications that Ms. Bellamy’s role was to coordinate and promote the Ostrander Point development. The written notes that were released through a freedom of information request included a communication between Ms. Bellamy and Mike Lord of Gilead regarding a CBC interview that took place in 2011. It was revealed that the “House Notes” about Ostrander Point that were delivered to assistant deputy ministers and deputy ministers were reviewed and approved by her. There were 31 newspaper articles in the released documents that showed that she was regularly receiving media stories about Ostrander Point.
The final argument was about which documents would be entered into the record as exhibits for the Tribunal to consider when making their decision on the case. Ms Kromkamp continued to assert that none of the documents were relevant to the remedy case. Eric Gillespie’s argument was that although some documents were not relevant most of them were and these documents went to the determination of credibility of Ms. Bellamy as a fact witness. In his final submission’s he pointed out the lack of information about the Blanding’s Turtle in any of the documents. The organization of documents that Eric Gillespie proposed was accepted because it allowed for the tribunal to have context of the arguments presented. All the documents he proposed that the Tribunal accept as exhibits were accepted.
Two witnesses remain to be heard. There will be a teleconference on Wednesday Nov 4 to determine further timing for the Ostrander Point Environmental Review Tribunal hearings.
Date/Time: September 21, 2015 / 5:30 – 8:30pm Place: Wellandport Community Centre – 5042 Canborough Road Attendees: CLC Members: Jordan Fois, Community Member Gerry Veluhuszen, Community Member John Sikkens, Community Member Brian Staff, Community Member Kris Franklin, Haldimand County FWRN LP: Adam Rosso, Boralex, Director of Development Bill Somerville, Enercon, Director of Construction Stantec: Krista Walkey, CLC Chair & Facilitator Jennifer Mondell, Planner Absentees: Irene Kerkhovent, Community Member Drew Cherry, GRCA Distribution: All Attendees, Absentees & FWRN Website