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Wind Permits Allowing Eagle Deaths Face Blowback

Clare Foran — National Journal — January 23, 2014

An ongoing battle over an Interior Department rule-making that allows wind-energy producers to kill bald and golden eagles without prosecution has created a rift between environmental advocates and the wind industry.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, one of the groups opposed to the rule. “We support a move away from fossil fuels, but there’s no question that this issue has strained our relationship with the wind industry.”

Permits authorizing the accidental death of eagles as a result of collision with wind turbines are nothing new. But when the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service extended the shelf-life of the permits from five to 30 years last month, the decision ruffled more than a few feathers.

Environmental groups, including Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, loudly criticized the rule, with many of the organizations saying that there isn’t enough credible information about how many eagles are killed by turbines to justify an increase in permit duration.

Research published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Biological Conservation last year estimated that between 140,438 and 327,586 birds—or a mean of 234,012—are killed annually due to collisions with turbines across the U.S.

Eagle mortality is more difficult to pin down, though it is clear that eagles are only a small fraction of all birds killed by turbines. A study in the Journal of Raptor Research also published last year reported 85 eagle deaths at wind farms in 10 states over a period from 1997 to 2012.

“If you want to know how many eagles are killed because of wind energy, you can’t find that number. That number doesn’t exist,” Yarnold said. “That’s a big part of the problem we have with this rule. It’s like they [FWS] haven’t done the homework.”   Continue reading here…..

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4 Comments on “Wind Permits Allowing Eagle Deaths Face Blowback”

  1. sandcanyongal January 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    The obvious solution is for the designers of the wtgs to retrofit grills over the propellers.

    • Donna Quixote January 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

      That would be an unrealistic thing to do for several reasons. Wind turbines are inefficient as it is. Anything — even a grill would decrease their efficiency dramatically to the point that they’d be even more useless than they already are.

      Secondly, with blades spanning in excess of 150 feet, it would be nearly impossible to construct a grill that large. The increased cost would again, make these things even more of a waste then they are now.

      Third, you’d have to convince the wind industry that it would be worth the investment at a time when they are still denying there’s any problem.

      • sandcanyongal January 25, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

        How do you know this to be true? The current wtgs are simply prototypes that have been put into widespread use. Another solution is to shut them down.

  2. cornwallwindwatch January 26, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.

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