Freshwater Wind Farms and Fertilizer Runoff: Which is the real threat to fish?

Outgoing Ohio Governor Ted Strickland set the future of Great Lakes wind energy in motion when he signed a lease with Lake Erie Energy Development Co. granting them the rights to study and potentially develop wind energy in Lake Erie.  From the blog of local environmental attorney Tim Lundgren:

“The contract gives LEEDCo and Freshwater Wind the exclusive right to pursue a submerged lands lease for a designated area in Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie. If performance metrics are met within the timeline established in the contract, Ohio will be home to the first freshwater wind farm in the world.”

Should this study and development prove successful, it will be an example for offshore wind farms in the rest of the Great Lakes states as well.

Ohio’s new Governor John Kasich, however, has previously given statements opposed to wind development in Lake Erie, saying that the proposed wind farm could affect fish spawning areas, and as such he would not allow it. But if Kasich is concerned with protecting Lake Erie wildlife, perhaps he should focus his attention on what is already and actually killing them, rather than dismissing a promising development before any studies have been completed.

Fertilizer runoff from farms in the Great Lakes has been on the rise. This runoff results in large algae blooms that grow and die quickly, resulting in areas with not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. Great Lakes Echo is posting segments from the Agricultural Conference on the Environment held in Lansing last month that deals with this growing problem.

If the new administration is against offshore wind development for speculative conservation reasons, it will be interesting to see how they choose to address this existing problem.

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