Law Firm Ready To Sue Highland New Wind Development Over Lack Of ITP
Marlinton, WV – The law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal notified Highland New Wind Development of their intention to file a lawsuit in Federal court if Highland New Wind (HNWD) doesn’t get an Incidental Take Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s not an empty threat – this is the same firm that successfully sued the Beech Ridge wind project in Greenbrier County and forced them to request an ITP.
An ITP permit allows the “taking” or killing, of a certain number of an endangered species where such taking is incidental, but not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. For HNWD, that permit would apply to Indiana Bats and Virginia Big Eared Bats. Hellhole Cave in Pendleton County is just 26 miles from the proposed wind turbine site on Tamarack Ridge. According to the law firms letter, the cave is home to an estimated 5000 Big Eared Bats, nearly half the states’ population, and considered a critical habitat for that species.
Pocahontas County Commissioner David Fleming spoke about this letter twice on Tuesday, first at the Pocahontas County Commission meeting and again at the Highland Co Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night. After summarizing the 21 page document for Commissioners Reta Griffith and Martin Saffer, Fleming said the Commission should support efforts to force HNWD to get the ITP.
Commissioner Griffith says she’d prefer that the Commission not get involved in what is essentially a Highland County matter. She says there are plenty of pressing issues for the Commissioners to address in Pocahontas County. But Fleming counters that he feels compelled to support the upholding of federal law. Commission President Martin Saffer says he applauds Flemings effort to stay involved, but also recognizes that further action rests with the Highland County Supervisors.
Fleming got much the same reaction from the Highland Board of Supervisors Tuesday night. The Supervisors listened while Fleming gave a somewhat briefer summary of the letter. Commonwealths’ Attorney Melissa Ann Dowd was somewhat less receptive. She told the Supervisors that although they were welcome to comment, she respectfully asked that they refrain from saying anything.
Supervisor Robin Sullenberger says recent comments from HNWD indicate they are talking about creating a Habitat Conservation Plan, the precursor to an ITP. However, he says the company has yet to make a verbal or written commitment concerning a conservation plan. HNWD has not yet applied for building permits to begin construction.
The letter does not give any indication of when the lawsuit may be filed.