Republicans are alleging that wind farms are responsible for the deaths of dozens of eagles and other protected species or birds.
They further claimed on Wednesday that the Obama administration is refusing to turn over documents related to enforcement of environmental laws at these wind farms,
Republican Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, accused the the Fish and Wildlife Service of engaging in a “deliberate slow rolling of documents and answers” for almost a year.
Hastings has has been trying to force the wildlife agency to hand over internal documents related to its enforcement of wind farm laws that protect eagles and other birds.
An Associated Press investigation last year showed that the administration was not even trying to prosecute wind energy companies for killing eagles and other protected birds.
The one exception was Duke Energy, which pleaded guilty in November 2013 to killing eagles and other birds at two Wyoming wind farms. They had to pay a $1 million fine.
The company was found guilty of killing eagles and other birds in violation of federal law. The government has calculated that at least 85 eagles are killed each year by wind turbines.
Hasting says that the wildlife agency “dragged its feet for six months” before providing a two-page memo written the year before, He complained that many of the documents that have been turned over in connection with the wind farms are incomplete or have been largely blacked out.
He added,”This is not compliance. This is deliberate slow rolling of documents and answers, and we’ve had enough.”
Other members of the committee asked the agency’s director, Dan Ashe about a new agency rule allowing energy companies to kill or injure eagles without risk of prosecution for up to 30 years.
The rule – yet to be implemented – gives legal protection for the lifespan of wind farms if energy companies obtain permits and make efforts to avoid killing protected birds. The permits would be reviewed every five years, and companies would have to inform the agency of how many eagles they killed.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., opposed this plan, calling the 30-year permits “licenses to kill.”
He suggested that the Obama administration was favoring wind power over traditional energy sources such as oil. Ashe disagreed,claiming the agency treats the wind industry the same way it deals with all energy producers.
Meanwhile, the pressure to build even more wind farms is growing, which means that, inevitably, an increasing number of birds will die in the future.