[Note: Although Wind Watch finds the premise to be largely unsubstantiated that wind power has any benefit beyond tax avoidance for its investors, the need to protect birds and their environments remains crucial.]
Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Wind power can be an important energy source for the United States, but it is just as important that it meet high standards to protect birds and other wildlife. Wind farms kill birds – including eagles, songbirds, and endangered species – through collisions with turbines, and also harm them by damaging the habitat they need to survive or excluding them from it. By 2030, there will be more than 100,000 wind turbines in the U.S., and these are expected to kill at least one million birds each year – probably significantly more. Though avoidable, harm to birds from wind power will increase if the U.S. continues business as usual.
[Your comments will be inserted here.]
To protect the nation’s birds and create a level playing field for wind developers, the draft wind energy guidelines must be strengthened and made mandatory, including the following specific improvements:
- All wind farms must establish and follow approved Avian Bird and Bat Protections plans.
- All wind farms must follow Avian Power Line Interaction Committee standards fro protecting birds from the power lines associated with wind power. Hundreds of thousands of birds are killed each year by electrocution or collisions with power lines. Many death can be prevented if the standards are followed.
- All wind farms must evaluate their potential noise impacts to birds. Research shows that even low sound levels can cause some bird species to abandon an area entirely or harm their ability to communicate, reproduce, or find food.
- The guidelines need to be a stand-alone document, without important elements such as ways to safeguard sage grouse placed on a different website, where they can be easily changed or ignored.
Protecting birds is worthwhile because birds are not only beautiful and interesting creatures, eagerly welcomed by millions of Americans into their backyards every year, but also because they help generate $36 billion annually to the U.S. economy through wildlife watching activities. They also assist our farmers by consuming billions of harmful insect pests from many important commercial food crops and our forests, and pollinate plants and disperse seeds for many crops and wild plants alike. We have a responsibility to safeguard these vital ecological services and economic benefits. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should honor that responsibility by enacting mandatory standards for wind farms that avoid and reduce the harm wind energy causes to birds.
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the draft wind guidelines.