Eagle kills now legal
Wind enthusiasts have been known to claim that the days of turbines killing raptors were limited to a few bad years at Altamont. But in A Struggle to Balance Wind Energy With Wildlife, the NY Times – which no longer has an environmental blog – writes:
…. a new federal rule was announced this month allowing wind farms to lawfully kill bald and golden eagles under 30-year permits.
So now it is perfectly legal for them to kill all the raptors and owls they supposedly weren’t killing before. Except that they were:
Last month, in the first case of its kind, Duke Energy agreed to pay $1 million in fines after a subsidiary pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company was charged with killing dozens of birds since 2009, including 14 golden eagles, at two Wyoming wind farm projects.
According to the Times article, only wind farms that have “minimized risk” through siting and design will be issued a permit to kill eagles, but a Master Resource report from March notes:
… the wind industry pretty much knew that there was little that could be done to make its propeller-style turbines safe for raptors. With exposed blade tips spinning in open space at speeds up to 200 mph, it was impossible. Wind developers also knew they would have a public relations nightmare if people ever learned how many eagles are actually being cut in half – or left with a smashed wing, to stumble around for days before dying.
To hide this inconvenient truth, strict wind farm operating guidelines were established – including high security around turbines, gag orders in agreements, and the prevention of accurate, meaningful mortality studies.
Some three decades later, the wind developers’ hide-the-problem strategy has largely hidden the avian mortality problem. While the public has some understanding that birds are killed by wind turbines, it doesn’t have a clue about the real mortality numbers.
And even if the public did know, chances are they’d choose electricity over eagles.