Remember the old Dan Aykroyd skit on “Saturday Night Live” about the Bass-O-Matic? “Catch a bass, remove the hook and drop the whole fish into the Bass-O-Matic,” Aykroyd instructed as he switched on the blender. “There’s no waste. You’ll never have to scale, cut or gut again.”
The updated version is the Bird-O-Matic, a no-spoof description of how the gigantic spinning blades on wind farms are chopping up tons of birds, including eagles.
In “Wind farms get pass on eagle deaths” (May 14, 2013), AP national environmental reporter Dina Cappiello wrote the following regarding PacifiCorp, a utility headquartered in Portland: “At least 20 golden eagles have been found dead at the company’s wind farms in Wyoming, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. It’s the not-so-green secret of the nation’s wind-energy boom: Spinning turbines are killing thousands of federally protected birds, including eagles, each year.”
A study published in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin estimates that 573,000 birds – including species protected by federal law and including 83,000 hunting birds such as eagles, hawks and falcons – are killed each year by way of collisions with wind-farm turbines, and the number could double to more than a million per year by 2030.
Cappiello reported that “companies operating industrial-sized turbines … that are killing eagles and other protected birds have yet to be fined or prosecuted” even though the “Obama administration has charged oil companies for drowning birds in their waste pits and power companies for electrocuting birds on power lines.”
The way the Obama White House plays favorites, birds killed by politically correct green companies are swept under the rug while politically incorrect fossil fuel companies that kill birds are prosecuted. In 2010, for example, BP was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds.
For a knowledgeable summation of this double standard, Cappiello quoted Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife enforcement agent based in Cody, Wyo.: “What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces that is OK.”
The double standard seemed to be lessening when the Obama administration, for the first time, took legal action against a wind project under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The settlement, announced on Nov. 22, 2013, required Duke Energy Renewables to pay $1 million in fines and restitution to an array of conservation groups for killing 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds with its wind turbines in Wyoming from 2009 to 2013.
On Dec. 6, however, things dramatically changed when the Obama administration announced that wind farms could obtain permits to accidently kill or injure legally protected bald eagles and golden eagles without penalty for up to 30 years.
According to “PBS NewsHour,” “the White House has championed wind power, a pollution-free energy intended to ease global warming.”
The decision to fight global warming by sacrificing eagles occurred the same week that newly analyzed NASA satellite data from Antarctica revealed the two coldest temperatures ever recorded on Earth – minus 135.8 degrees Fahrenheit in August 2010 and minus 135.3 degrees Fahrenheit in July 2013.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur
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