Friday, June 29, 2007

Another Wind Farm Petition Reaches County Clerk’s Desk

The following article by reporter Kaley Lyon was printed in the Hays Daily News on June 29, 2007:

Another petition regarding the proposed Ellis County wind farm was presented to the Ellis County clerk Thursday. This one requests a complete moratorium on the project and consists of 760 signatures.

The document does not protest wind energy, but requests cautious and balanced deliberation before the county proceeds, states the cover letter, which is endorsed by the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition.

“The objective is to have, similar to any other project of this magnitude, a proper, government-commissioned, independent impact assessment of the economic and environmental consequences of this,” said J.P. Michaud, one of three people who submitted the petition. “It’s not an unreasonable demand.”

The signatures represent adults in Ellis County, Michaud said, and most were obtained in person, either by solicitation or petition drives.

A total of 96 signatures, however, were obtained online at the ECEAC Web site, 55 of which were not later obtained in hard copy.

About 100 signatures were collected during the ECEAC’s presentation May 2 at Fox Pavilion, he said.

“Before May 2, we had fewer than 50 (signatures),” Michaud said. “So in two months, we’ve collected over 700.”

The objective of the petition is not to protest wind energy as a whole, but to request assessments prior to decision-making, Michaud said.

“We’re not saying no to wind energy,” he said. “We’re saying that the zoning board is supposed to have a comprehensive plan in place for such a development, and they do not.”

The citizen petition requests four assessments be completed: an assessment of net economic impact, fair and equitable compensation packages for affected landowners, environmental hazards and community liability.

County Clerk Alberta Klaus said the petition will be delivered to Ellis County commissioners on Monday.

What the petition says:

We, the undersigned, request a COMPLETE MORATORIUM on the proposed Hays Wind Farm Proposal until such time as the following comprehensive assessments can be made by qualified persons or agencies without financial interests in this project:
  1. Assessment of net economic impact of this project on the community and all affected residents.
  2. Assessment of fair and equitable compensation packages for affected landowners whose property values will be depressed.
  3. Assessment of the numerous environmental hazards posed by this development to the entire surrounding community, including impacts on human and animal health, water table contamination, air quality issues, noise and visual pollution, and all the localized impacts associated with the construction phase of the project.
  4. Assessment of community liability in “worst case scenarios,” either economic or environmental.
The cover letter that accompanied the petition reads as follows:
Dear Sirs,

Please find attached a petition from the citizens of Ellis County requesting a moratorium on wind energy development in the county until such time as a qualified, independent assessment of all impacts, both environmental and economic, can be commissioned by an appropriate government authority.

Our petition has been signed by 760 adult residents of Ellis County. The majority of these signatures have been collected by members of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition through direct personal contacts with members of their community. A small fraction was obtained online at our website (listed separately).

This is not a petition opposing wind energy, but rather a request for cautious and balanced deliberation before we proceed with a very large industrial development that will permanently alter the character of our community.

Thank you,
Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition

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