Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Obama Administration Permits Eagle Deaths

         Wind Turbines, standing nearly 30 stories tall, spin up to 170 miles per hour. Creating a tornado like vortex they are the cause of approximately 600,000 avian and bat fatalities each year, 83,000 being raptors such as the federally protected bald eagle. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act eagles are under the protection of the federal government “prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit "Take" includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill…”-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Eagles are also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, those who interfere with the migration of eagles are subject to “maximum of two years imprisonment and $250,000 fine for a felony conviction and six months imprisonment or $5,000 fine for a misdemenor conviction. Fines double if the violator is an organization rather than an individual.” -U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
        When eagles are killed by windmills, what are the penalties? Do the wind turbine companies have to pay a fine or do their members serve their time in prison for all the eagles they have killed? The Obama Administration recently reacted to these statistics by permitting these companies with a “free pass” to killing eagles without penalty on wind farms. A 30 year permit proposal which will devastate the eco-system and various species of birds and bats. In a "quest" for clean energy Obama has doubled Americas wind power, but why use such an expensive an alternative which lacks efficiency and consistence? A modern wind turbine, which can generate 2 megawatts of electricity (MWe) when the wind is blowing, costs about $3.5 million installed. Five hundred of these turbines installed at a wind farm, to be able to generate 1000 MWe, would cost $1.75 billion. A typical wind farm will produce energy 30% of the time, and not necessarily when energy is needed. The feds decision to permit Eagle killings for three decades have not only wind companies applying but also building companies and the military. 
The Obama Administration is willing to sacrifice the National icon for an inefficient form of alternative energy, the detriments of this decision will not only concern wildlife conservatives, patriots, and eagle populations but also Native American tribes who universally look to Eagles with high religious and traditional respect.

For more information: Indian Country & Washington Times


1 comment:

  1. This is so interesting, Ray. Back in the day, I worked with folks from the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in Montana on scoping the policy and regulatory landscape to assess the feasibility of large scale wind farm development on what my Fort Peck pal called the "Saudi Arabia of Wind." The Fort Peck resource is spectacular but the problem is that tribal land where the wind project could be developed is far removed from the transmission grid. (The cost of wind farm electricity you cite, I believe, is almost certainly a function of putting in transmission lines to remote areas...not considering this, the cost of new wind is comparable to new natural gas). And, yes, wind is intermittent, but we have intermittent coal and gas power plants that are dispatched only to provide power during peak electricity loads. Wind fed into a utility grid can be very useful in offsetting fossil fuel generation, from natural gas or highly-polluting coal and therefore represents a very important weapon in our fight against global warming. That said, the 10-year free pass on eagle kills is terrible. For the life of me, I don't know how this does anything to incentivize the industry to more carefully study bird migration paths and wind siting alternatives. Wind energy industry clearly has some friends in high places at the Fish and Wildlife Service/Dept of Interior.