Threat of Litigation Halts Wind-Energy Project

MIDDLETON, WI - NOVEMBER 19: A wind turbine rises up above farmland on the outskirts of the state capital on November 19, 2013 near Middleton, Wisconsin. A bill that would make it easier for residents living near power generating wind turbines to sue for any perceived negative impacts to their health and property values goes before the Wisconsin legislature on Wednesday. Critics believe the bill (SB167) could kill the wind energy business in Wisconsin.  (National Journal)

A conservation group is claiming victory following an announcement that planned construction of a wind turbine near the shores of Lake Erie has been put on hold.

Earlier this month, the American Bird Conservancy said it was weighing legal action against the Ohio National Guard for a proposal to build a turbine in northern Ohio near its Camp Perry training facility. ABC claimed that the turbine should not be built, on the grounds that it would threaten safe passage of migratory birds as they traveled through a major North American migration corridor.

The threat of legal action appears to have carried real weight.

A representative from the Air National Guard signaled Tuesday that plans to move ahead with the project would not go forward, at least for the time being.

ABC cheered the decision in a statement.

"The victory sends a strong message to other wind energy developers in this ecologically sensitive region that conservationists will be closely watching their actions," said Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of ABC's Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign. "This is a heartening outcome for the environment and for birds."

The news comes at a time when tensions between environmental and conservation advocates and the wind industry are running high. It also arrives on the heels of the first federal prosecution of a wind-energy developer for bird deaths due to collision with turbines, a lawsuit that resulted in a $1 million settlement between the Justice Department and Duke Energy in November.