Any Project That Impacts Lake Erie Should Be Studied

Whether it’s permanent or a mere speed bump, the Chautauqua County Legislature has done the right thing in passing a resolution stating the county’s opposition to wind turbines on Lake Erie.

Erie County, N.Y., has already passed such a resolution while the Lake Erie Foundation has opposed construction of wind turbines off the lake’s shores in Cleveland. One can easily argue that wind power isn’t economical, particularly without government subsidies, or reliable, but the counties’ arguments are largely environmental.

Chautauqua County officials fear inadvertently killing migratory birds and bats, spawning grounds for fish, commercial fishing and possible drinking water contamination.

At the very least, such concerns should be studied by a real, honest-to-goodness third party. Given how much emphasis the state has placed on wind power in its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, do we really trust that a state agency will arrive at a ruling that is at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated plans for offshore wind energy regardless of what the evidence actually says? Given the timeline the governor has expressed, can those with concerns really expect anything but a rushed study from the state?

It remains to be seen if New York state will abide by the resolutions adopted by local governments or if the state will find a work-around that, while legal, circumvents the opinions of locals. We hope state officials remember, though, that New York’s Lake Erie communities have every right to be concerned with offshore wind turbine plans and harmful algal blooms that are making their way up the coast from Pennsylvania. Lake Erie is an important resource, and development that could impact that should be fully addressed before work begins.