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01.19.11

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Not Opposed, Just Cautious

The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) would like to respond to Bruce Robinson's story ("Getting Some Blowback," Jan. 5) about the West Marin organizations and individuals that appealed the county's approval of two guy-wired towers proposed for construction in the coastal zone. Mr. Robinson lumped together all of the appellants and their reasons for appealing, and mistakenly so.

The EAC appealed the approval of the guy-wired towers urging adherence to the precautionary principle, a concept supported by the countywide plan and the California Environmental Quality Act that utilizes understanding and preparation, rather than determining an acceptable level of harm. The EAC supports wind energy as a viable alternative to carbon-based forms of energy, and did not oppose approval of the wind-study towers. Rather, the EAC appealed to ensure that the appropriate environmental review occurred prior to erection of the study towers in one of the nation's highest bird diversity areas.

The proposed 198-foot wind-study towers would each be secured with over 3,500 feet of guy wires, and guy wires kill birds. The towers would be sited on top of ridges and next to Tomales Bay, which is a Ramsar Convention International wetland of concern and coastal wetland of statewide significance; next to the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary; only a few miles from the Point Reyes National Seashore and Philip Burton Wilderness; and near the Estero de San Antonio. The Estero de San Antonio is cited in Marin's Local Coastal Program as being a coastal wetland of statewide significance and having a "wide variety of habitat types and a high diversity of associated animal species" including over 130 bird species. Given the movement of the considerable number and diversity of birds populating and migrating through this area, these anomalous structures pose a real risk of bird injury and fatality.

The applicant, NextEra Energy Resources LLC of Juno Beach, Fla. (self-professed largest wind-turbine company in the country), and county relied on studies performed of guy-wired towers near the Montezuma Hills, but that area is a grassland habitat with relatively low avian species diversity.

The EAC filed an appeal with the California Coastal Commission this week seeking a site-specific biological assessment and imposition of necessary mitigation measures prior to issuance of a coastal permit for the guy-wired wind-study towers. The EAC welcomes alternative, noncarbon forms of energy, but the need for clean energy does not justify overriding our environmental laws and the public process or needless harm to wildlife.

Amy Trainer

Executive Director, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin


A Plausible Theory

If E.T.s were really dangerous ("E.T. Stay Home," Jan. 12), then they would land somewhere in South Africa and take all the diamonds and gold, and then take a few movie stars like Charlize Theron, etc., to another live solar system, and with movie characters like Vin Diesel, buy and sell gold and diamonds, then make some deposits and zoom back to this system to get minerals cheaper from China.

Michael Bobier

Santa Rosa


Dept. of 404 Error

Our recent article about Sonic.net ("Sonic Boom," Jan. 12) stated that in 2009, the company reaped $21 million in profit. Why, that's crazy, you must have thought—and you would be right! Rather, the company made $21 million in revenue for 2009.

The Ed.

Still So glad He dumped Earthlink


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