A golden eagle flying across the landscape looking for food flies into a spinning wind turbine and is crippled or killed. A death that will go unpunished.
The death of these beautiful birds is a great loss to nature but it is against the law. So how is it that no one will be punished?
Blame the Obama administration. The Interior Department has never prosecuted or fined a wind energy company.
Green energy is a cornerstone of our president’s energy plan. Because of this, green energy companies get to do things that are not that green. The government is doing everything in their power to protect companies from liability. They are helping by not reporting the death of many eagles, hawks and falcons.
It has been estimated that there are over 573,000 birds killed by winds farms every year. Of this number, about 83,000 are hunting birds. The real number is impossible to report because the wind companies are not required to report the number of birds killed to the government. When they are reported, the Obama administration refuses to make them public.
One of the deadliest places for golden eagles is Wyoming. Federal officials claim that there have been more than four dozen killed since 2009.
Almost all of the birds that are being killed are protected under the federal environment laws. These laws have been responsible for millions of dollars in fines from oil and gas companies over the last five years.
The death toll, caused by the wind farms, shows that even green energy comes with it own impact on the environment. It is a trade-off that the current administration accepts.
This same administration does not accept any trade-off from the fossil fuel industry.
After a BP oil well spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, they were fined $100 million for killing or harming migratory birds along the coast.
PacifiCorp operates coal plants in Wyoming. In 2009 they were fined more than $10.5 million because 232 eagles were electrocuted along power lines at its substations.
This same company operates a wind farm in Wyoming. In the last few years, there have been as least 20 dead eagles found on site. They have never been fined or prosecuted. Does this mean that it is against the law to electrocute and eagle but it is all right to hack one pieces?
The Obama administration has proposed a rule that could give the wind industry decades of protection for killing eagles. The proposal, made by the wind energy companies, would let companies apply for a 30-year permit to kill a set number of bald or golden eagles.
Why would our government do this? According to administration people, the longer permit was needed to “facilitate responsible development of renewable energy while continuing to protect eagles.”
What is the real reason behind this? Without a long-term authorization to kill eagles, there may not be many investors interested in financing an industry that is in violation of the law.
Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the death of a single bird without a permit is a crime. Under the Obama administrations new guidelines, wind energy companies, and only wind energy companies, are held to a different standard.
Before the boom of wind energy, the golden eagle population was so bad that the government’s conservation goal in 2009 was not to let a single bird die.
Birds are continuing to die. One reason is due to biology. Eagles do not reach the age to reproduce until the age of five. There are usually only between one and three chicks hatched. All of them will not survive until they reach maturity.
It amazes me that an administration that is supposedly so environmentally friendly will not approve a pipeline (Keystone) that would create jobs for a country that needs them while allowing the continuation of the slaughter of eagles.