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Sierra Club Fights for Clean Power Wind Turbines

On June 23, 2016, LV Sierra Club chair Donald Miles presented, on behalf of the Pennsylvania Chapter and the Lehigh Valley Sierra Club, our support for a Clean Power wind turbine project in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. At an evening meeting of Penn Forest Township, the Sierra Club's support for the wind turbine project was presented to the township zoning board, amidst 300 noisy objectors (most not living near the wind turbine site).

The City of Bethlehem has for over 80 years maintained a 22,000 acre forested watershed with 2 reservoirs in the Pocono township. It brings 12 billion gallons per day of pure drinking water to Bethlehem and surrounding communities, down a 22-mile pipeline. The City maintains the watershed in an award-winning environmentally-sensitive manner, in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy. The director of the watershed is a Sierra Club member.

Iberdrola Renewables, a large international wind-turbine developer, proposes to install 37 large wind turbines, together with associated electric service lines and an 18-ft. wide access driveway, on two hills within the City watershed. The watershed is not an old-growth forest: prior to 1940, it was farmland and its original old-growth forest was clear-cut over 150 years ago. The watershed does not contain endangered species and the project must receive environmental approvals from 14 federal and state agencies.

While wind turbines can harm birds and bats, deaths to both are many times more likely from other causes. The site is more than 7 miles north of the main Appalachian raptor flyway along Blue Mountain. The wind turbines will not impair drinking water quality and will, during and after construction, not substantially impact wildlife habitats. Sound leaving the watershed boundary must by law be less than 45 decibels -- less than the sound of a typical conversation.

Every wind turbine installed in Pennsylvania will lessen the demand for polluting coal and natural gas electric generation plants and will help reduce Pennsylvania's current major contribution to greenhouse-gas-produced climate disruption. The Sierra Club supports Clean Power from wind and solar facilities if, as here, they are properly sited.

Despite opposition from residents in and near Penn Forest Township -- whose objections are mainly based on unfounded worries over noise and property values -- the Sierra Club strongly encourages wind turbine electric power generation in Pennsylvania.

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