Target: Obama Administration
Goal: Do not allow wind farms to kill bald and golden eagles without penalty
The government will now allow wind farms to kill bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years without penalty in an effort to “balance some of the environmental trade-offs” of green energy. This rule, passed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will increase the period that wind farms are allowed to unintentionally kill bald and golden eagles from 5 years to 30.
Besides the Bald Eagle being the symbol of the United States, it is a federally protected bird with fewer than 4,600 adults left in the United States. At one time, the birds were close to being extinct. Wildlife groups are protesting, saying the decision by the Interior Department amounted to the “sanctioned the killing of America’s symbol.”
Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold said, “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check. It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the bald eagle.” The decision by the Interior Department is essentially the sanctioned killing of an American icon.
But John Anderson, the director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association, defends the idea from the Obama administration. He said, “This is not a program to kill eagles. This permit program is about conservation.”
It is estimated that nearly 600,000 birds are killed in US wind farms every year. These numbers include over 80,000 birds of prey. Among these are the Bald Eagle, which has just come back from the brink of extinction. Because the birds are an endangered national icon, killing one results in a hefty fine and even jail time. However, under the Obama administration’s energy plan, which includes $1 billion per year in tax breaks for wind farm companies, wind farms will only increase in number, killing even more birds.
Some accuse the Obama administration of playing favorites. In the case of Duke Energy, the alternative energy company pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two wind farms. The case was the first one prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. But in the past oil companies have faced steep fines for causing bird deaths. BP was fined $100 million for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. PacifiCorp was fined over $10 million for the electrocution deaths of 232 eagles in 2009. Exxon Mobile was fined $600,000 for the deaths of 85 birds from an oil spill in 2009. But wind farms will now have a 30-year grace period that allows them to kill eagles. To many, this seems hypocritical. The Interior Department says only that the alternative energy companies would have to take “additional measures” if the eagles were affected more than expected.
The Humane Society of the United States president and CEO Wayne Pacelle said, “We realize that all energy production systems come with their ecological and animal welfare costs, but that doesn’t mean we should exempt those who cause acute impacts from any responsibility or mitigation requirements. Extending take permits for 30 years prevents the Administration from fully considering the impact of wind farms on eagles, and is a blow to the protection of raptors and so many other types of birds.”
Eagles’ recovering numbers are due to their conservation. With this new permit, many more birds will die. Condemn the Obama administration for considering consumerism over animal welfare and allowing the murder of America’s symbol.
Dear President Obama,
Your new wind farm permit sanctions the murder of bald eagles, our country’s symbol. The bald eagle has very recently recovered from the brink of extinction, and is still federally protected. To kill one merits a large fine or even jail time. However, in your efforts to be “green,” you seem to have forgotten that these wind farms kill birds. 600,000 birds per year are killed on wind farms, with 80,000 of those being birds of prey, like bald eagles. Over 80 bald eagles have been killed in the last several years. To allow wind farms carte blanche to kill our nation’s symbol is absurd.
Please reconsider your permit. Bald eagles are a great symbol of our nation, and to allow them to be murdered for the sake of wind energy seems anti-American, as well as incredibly detrimental to the species.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: James Salvas via Flickr