Oregon is the first wind farm to apply and be considered for a permit that would allow a certain number of golden and bald eagles to be killed incidentally, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Approximately 400,000 birds are killed from wind projects when they collide with the wind turbines or the transmission lines near them each year, Kelly Fuller, wind campaign coordinator at American Bird Conservancy (ABC), said in an interview.
In the past many wind energy developers have ignored the impact of wind farms on wildlife, according to the ABC website.
“Developers in all industry sectors, including wind energy, should be required to do everything possible to minimize their adverse effects on birds,” ABC president George Fenwick said in a press release.
Wind energy usage is growing rapidly. “For over a decade, wind energy has been the fastest growing energy technology worldwide, achieving an annual growth of over 30 percent. In the United States, the current total installed capacity is over 46,900 megawatts of wind projects,” according to the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) website. It is BLM’s responsibility as a federal agency to ensure that wind companies meet requirements.
FWS is required to look over public comment and take it into consideration before issuing the permit, and ABC is asking for an extension on the public comment period. “We need to make sure that all possible eagle deaths are avoided at this site, and that the government follows its own rules for issuing such a permit. In order to have time to do this review, we are asking the government to extend the 30-day comment period to 60 days,” said Fuller on the ABC website.
ABC sent a petition to FWS last year requesting better regulations for the wind industry. “ABC’s petition would safeguard more than just birds covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It proposes a model rule that would allow the government to consider impacts of wind farms on all bird species, as well as bats and other wildlife,” said Fuller. Currently there are no national regulations protecting birds from wind projects.
Golden and bald eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Birds Treaty Act, Fuller confirmed. If eagles were killed from the project without the permit, it would be under violation of the Eagle Act.
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