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December 12, 2022

Tom Paul Featured in Times Union Article on Endangered Bat Species

Tom Paul, counsel, was featured in the Albany Times Union article, “Northern Long-Eared Bats Now on Endangered Species List,” about the role played by the northern long-eared bat (NLEB), which the US Fish and Wildlife Service reclassified from threatened to endangered in November 2022, in the preparations for a planned Costco warehouse store in Guilderland, New York. 

The NLEB, which has seen catastrophic population declines caused by a fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome as well as human activities, has a range throughout the eastern and north-central United States and Canada. White-nose syndrome also affects other species of bat. 

The bat’s endangered status means developers will need to take extra measures to ensure the NLEB isn’t present when clearing land for their projects, including wind energy projects. Wind energy projects are a large component in New York State’s renewable energy goals. 

Tom said, “I anticipate that the uplisting of the NLEB will have negative impacts on construction schedules and costs for a variety of projects, including wind and other renewable energy projects, due to the need for surveys.” He added, “The uplisting eliminated the rule allowing for tree clearing during the winter months, so surveys will likely be needed for projects involving forest clearing any time of the year to manage the risk of an unauthorized ‘take.’”

The NLEB’s endangered status could also mean that wind turbine operation throughout the bat’s range could be curtailed above certain wind speeds during certain times of the day or during the year. Tom said, “Such measures will reduce the amount of energy that can be produced and sold.”

In the Costco case in March 2020, clear-cutting on the site was protested due to the possible presence of the NLEB. The clear-cutting took place without the completion of a state environmental quality review (SEQR). However, the uplisting of the NLEB has not since impacted the Costco plans.

Click here to read the full article.
 

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