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Environmental News Network: Should Wind Industry Get a Free Pass on Bird Deaths?

Paul Batistelli — Environmental News Network — October 15, 2013

Energy generation has never been without controversy, and green energy is proving to be no different. The environmental arguments against coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear power are well rehearsed. More recently, the wind power industry has been unable to silence critics of wind turbines’ impact on birds and bats. In March, the Wildlife Society Bulletin reported that about 888,000 bats and 573,000 birds are killed by wind farms annually, 80,000 of which are raptors such as hawks, falcons and eagles. This data may make us reconsider what “clean energy” means and whether this environmental harm outweighs the value of renewable energy.

Particular outrage has been caused by the deaths of bald and golden eagles. The exact number of deaths is unclear, as a paper produced by the Journal of Raptor Research in September stated that there were only about 85 eagle fatalities within the past five years, all of which occurred at 32 different wind farms in 10 states. This study has come under significant scrutiny because wind facilities voluntarily report eagle deaths, and may underestimate total deaths. Additionally, the study did not include data from the Altamont Pass Wind Farm in California, which according to NBC kills more than 60 eagles per year.

The killing of eagles is a felony, but wind energy companies have yet to face the legal prosecution that oil and electric companies have faced for similar incidents. The Obama administration has even proposed 30-year permits for wind companies to kill a set number of bald or golden eagles. Opponents of the wind power industry are outraged, and feel that because the government is subsidizing these renewable energy companies they are being given a pass for their infractions. In contrast, BP was fined $100 million for harming wildlife off the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, PacifiCorp paid $10 million in 2009 for eagle deaths along its power lines and at its substations, and ExxonMobil paid a $600,000 fine for killing birds in Colorado.   Continue reading, here….


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One Comment on “Environmental News Network: Should Wind Industry Get a Free Pass on Bird Deaths?”

  1. Casia October 15, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    They already have a free pass to human deaths….

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