Farmer files federal lawsuit to prevent recently completed Pratt area wind farm from starting, to protect Whooping Cranes
PRATT – A Pratt County farmer has filed a suit in federal court seeking to prevent a new wind farm in Pratt County from starting up because of the risk he believes it poses to Whooping Cranes.
Edwin Petrowsky, a former member of the Pratt County Zoning Commission, filed the suit Nov. 23 seeking temporary and permanent injunctions against NextEra Energy Resources.
Petrowsky contends the Ninnescah Wind Farm, which consists of 121 wind generators in the southeast quadrant of the county, is in the flyway of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo Whooping Crane, which is an endangered species. The wind farm is expected to go online next week.
At last count, there was only an estimated 329 wild Aransas-Wood cranes in North America.
Petrowsky charges that NextEra is aware of the danger the project is creating, yet has failed to obtain an “incidental taking permit” that would allow the incidental killing of some birds under the Endangered Species Act.
NextEra spokesperson Steve Stengel said that the company has worked with state and federal authorities “all throughout development of the project” and that the siting of the turbines “has taken into account migratory flyways.”
“Whooping Cranes generally fly higher than the heights of the turbines,” Stengel said. “But, in working with the agencies, we have agreed to ongoing bird monitoring at the site.”
According to an earlier story in the Pratt Tribune, the company has agreed to bird and bat monitoring during its first year of operation, “to track mortality rates.” The farm is also in an area with a high number of bat hibernation sites.
Parts of the wind farm, which will generate 200 megawatts of electricity that Westar Energy is under a 20-year contract to purchase, are within 35 to 40 miles of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms, both designated as critical habitat for the whooping crane. The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, another designated habitat, is also nearby.
***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.