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Golden, bald eagles join list of government losers

It’s often said the government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers. One big reason is that for the losers, it’s often a very big loss.

For instance, a bad bet on solar-panel maker Solyndra cost taxpayers $535 million. And despite that costly track record the Obama administration is once again picking winners and losers in green energy. This time, the winner is the wind-energy industry, the losers are bald and golden eagles.

Right now, dozens of eagles are killed each year after flying into wind turbine blades that are as wide as a passenger jet’s wings and spin up to 170 miles an hour at the wingtips. Under a new Interior Department rule wind energy companies will be allowed to kill or injure eagles for up to 30 years without fear of prosecution. Wind farm owners must have a permit, of course, are asked to try not to kill the birds and have to report how many they kill each year.

Because, as John Anderson of the American Wind Energy Association says, “This permit program is about conservation.” Well, make that conserving fossil fuels, not a living symbol of the United States.

The National Audubon Society plans to challenge this ridiculous “blank check” ruling. It should.

Meanwhile, what are the chances that extractive industries would get a similar response at the hands of this administration? None.

While the extractive industries like oil and gas are regulated – in many cases appropriately so – in an effort to mitigate environmental damage, the administration is once again picking winners and losers by showing it has no inclination to apply the same standard to one of its chosen endeavors.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.