Wind farms and eagles do not mix. 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 including eagles.
The number of birds killed was researched and published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin last month. Many of the birds, including the golden eagle, are protected by federal law. However, wind-energy companies have escaped fines and prosecution.
As reported by CBS, President Obama’s energy plan included a $1 billion, per year, tax break for wind-energy companies. As our nation explores alternative and green energy sources, the number of wind farms continues to rise.
Unfortunately, wind farms and eagles do not mix. President Obama and his administration are accused of ignoring the issue, allowing wind-energy companies to carelessly kill protected birds.
In similar cases, oil companies have faced steep fines for causing the death of birds. BP was fined $100 million for bird deaths, tied to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, in 2010. 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.
During the Exxon Mobile case, Colorado U.S. Attorney David M. Gaouette, was quoted as stating, “We are all responsible for protecting our wildlife, even the largest of corporations.”
As reported by Business Week, Republicans in Congress are disturbed by the discrepancy. Senator David Vitter discusses his opinion on the topic:
“We obviously don’t want to see indiscriminate killing of birds from any sort of energy production, yet the administration’s ridiculous inconsistencies begs questioning and clarity— clarity on why wind energy producers are let off the hook.”
Vitter’s opinion is shared by many. However, Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe highlights the importance of alternative energy:
“Climate change is really greatest threat that we see to species conservation in long run… We have an obligation to support well-designed renewable energy.”
Alternative and green energy sources are important to the future of our nation, and the world. However, as wind turbines and eagles do not mix, we need to consider the impact of losing endangered species’ as well.
[Image via Wikimedia]