The Highlanders for Responsible Development (HRD) has released the following statement to the press:
Threatened by Wind Turbines: Camp Allegheny Nominated for the 2011 Most Endangered Historic Sites Listing of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
May 15, 2011 – Highlanders for Responsible Development
Camp Allegheny, a Civil War battlefield and winter encampment on the WV-VA border, has been nominated by Highlanders for Responsible Development to be listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11-Most Endangered Historic Places. The National Trust is a private non-profit organization, and its highly competitive most-endangered list is intended to raise public awareness of threats to important historic places across the nation. Camp Allegheny previously appeared on the Civil War Trust’s 2009 and 2010 listings of Most-Endangered Battlefields. Camp Allegheny has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.
2011 is the 150-year anniversary of the battle at Camp Allegheny that helped to block the federal advance on Virginia from the west and set the stage for Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign. The day-long battle at Camp Allegheny in December of 1861 involved approximately 3000 soldiers and 280 casualties.
Camp Allegheny, the highest-elevation and most-pristine Civil War battlefield east of the Mississippi, has been preserved due to the remote location of the site and thanks to the stewardship of the current private and National Forest owners. This well-preserved historic site is now threatened, however, by construction of 400-foot wind turbines that would dominate a panoramic mountain view from the battlefield that has been remarkably little altered in the century and a half since the engagement.
The nomination was submitted to the National Trust by Highlanders for Responsible Development (HRD), a citizen’s group formed in 2005 in response to Highland New Wind Development’s (HNWD) proposal to build 19 wind turbines in the remote mountain area along the border of VA’s Highland County and WV’s Pocahontas County.
The wind energy project has been at the center of continuous controversy and repeated legal challenges since it was first announced in 2002.
The location of the proposed wind project on the state border has created a interstate regulatory problem that has thus far defied solution. Camp Allegheny is in WV, the wind turbine project would be located in VA.
After the Virginia Department of Historic Resources complained to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) that HNWD failed to cooperate in an assessment of impacts to the battlefield, in 2010 the SCC took the position that it has no jurisdiction to address impacts across the border. Federal oversight of the wind project would require historic preservation offices in Virginia and West Virginia to cooperate with federal authorities in assessing impact to Camp Allegheny. HNWD has avoided this federal oversight.
In addition to the battlefield issue, the HNWD project faces a number of other problems, including a pending complaint under the Endangered Species Act, potential violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and potential pollution problems associated with extensive earth disturbance in the headwaters of Laurel Fork, a high-quality native brook trout stream.
Although HNWD owner and developer, Tal McBride, has declared that the turbine blades will be spinning this summer, a recent article in Virginia Business magazine indicates that the company has not been able to obtain a power purchase agreement with the electric utilities. An earlier warning by HNWD lawyer, John Flora, of Harrisonburg law firm, Lenhart Obenshain, PC, indicated that the stringent environmental conditions imposed on the project by the SCC would scare away investors.
It’s not clear at this point if the range of issues surrounding HNWD has deterred the power purchasers and investors needed for the $80 million project.
Contacts for the nomination:
- Rick Webb; firstname.lastname@example.org; 540-468-2881 (HRD Board Member)
- Dan Foster; email@example.com; 540-468-3202 (HRD Board Member)
Contacts for Highland New Wind Development:
- Tal McBride; firstname.lastname@example.org; 703-525-8331 (Owner/Developer)
- John Flora; email@example.com; 540-437-3111 (Legal Representation)
Press release ends!
Allegheny Treasures note:
As mentioned in the press release, the Civil War Preservation Trust, (America’s largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields), named Camp Allegheny Battlefield to its 2009 and 2010 most endangered battlefield list due to the planned intrusion of the massive wind turbines along the Virginia side of the WV/VA border. The Trust made special note that “the lush nature of this unique battlefield along the Virginia-West Virginia border stands to be compromised by a field of 19 massive wind turbines along a nearby ridgeline. Each unit would stand 40 stories high – 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty – and have a footprint stretching the length of a football field.”
Brightside Acres was kind to provide this simulation of the proposed turbine placement to demonstrate the impact of these massive, yet dismally productive, tax shelters.
A little over a year ago I compared the turbine intrusion at Camp Allegheny Battlefield with the massive, 26 year long successful effort to remove a privately owned public viewing tower located next to the Gettysburg Battlefield (Virginia’s industrial wind and the “lessons learned” at Gettysburg). As I noted then, “The parallels are striking! The arguments so similar! A commercial enterprise pitted against a reverence for history.” If one considers that the insult to sacred Gettysburg was a single, 300 foot tall, privately owned observation tower bordering the Gettysburg Battlefield National Park, then how can we even begin to measure the impact of the State of Virginia’s approval to place several 400 foot tall, 747 size wind turbines at the edge of, and towering above, Camp Allegheny. Virginia’s (appropriately named) State Corporation Commission, by granting permission to construct, ignored pleas from both the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the West Virginia State Historical Preservation Office.
Of course, we’ll hear of personal property rights to develop land as they see fit, regardless of the impact on neighboring lands, but that argument fell short at Gettysburg when the rich and famous joined average citizens to successfully remove the eyesore from the border of the battlefield. The vast majority of citizens were pleased with the removal of the commercial venture for the sake of protecting a historical landmark and, to me, the most meaningful comment made when the Gettysburg tower fell came from Barbara Finfrock, president of the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg: “Now, when we look at the battlefield, we will see nothing … which means we will be able to see everything.” That statement certainly seems to speak to the issues facing Camp Allegheny today.
But, maybe things are different today, when the almighty dollar seems to rule above all else. Industrial wind is certainly the poster child for corporate welfare – receiving huge tax incentives with so very little to offer in return. And, for those of you having any doubt about the real goal of the industrial wind business, simply look to the words of Gabriel Alonso, chief executive of Horizon Wind energy, one of America’s “biggest wind-farm developers,” who told his employees that their goal isn’t to stage a renewable-energy revolution, “This is all about making money!” (Wall Street Journal – April 5, 2011)
Mr. Alonso, you took the words right out of my mouth!
And, of course, please visit the many informative sites linked at Allegheny Treasures, including the excellent offerings by industrial wind experts such as Jon Boone, Glenn Schleede, John Droz Jr. and many others.
Please also visit the superb Civil War Preservation Trust web site. If you’re not already a member, we encourage you to please consider joining this excellent organization.