Wind Farms Killing Eagles With Impunity

Have not been fined for endangered bird deaths

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Most environmentalists agree that wind power is a good thing. It’s clean, it’s a job creator, and it fights global warming. Birds, on the other hand, might feel differently.

Over half-a-million birds are killed by the country’s wind farms every year, according to an estimate in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. Eighty-three thousand of those birds are hunters like hawks, falcons, and eagles, and many of them are endangered. It’s a federal crime to kill these birds and power companies have been prosecuted for letting the animals be electrocuted on their lines. The same goes for oil companies that allow protected birds to drown in their waste pits. In 2009, PacifiCorp paid more than $10.5 million for the electrocution of 232 eagles at is power plants and substations in Wyoming. BP also ended up paying $100 million for the deaths of migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf spill.

Wind farms, clusters of 30-story turbines with rotor blades as wide as a passenger jet, are especially dangerous to birds, but under the Obama administration, no wind companies have been fined or prosecuted. While the companies voluntarily report deaths, the Obama administration, which championed a $1 billion-per-year tax break for wind energy, has refused to make the information public, citing the potential compromise of trade secrets or ongoing investigations.

Michael Tincher, of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program says he recently euthanized two golden eagles found starving near death near a wind farm. Both appeared to have been injured by the turbines. “There is nothing in the evolution of eagles that would come near to describing a wind turbine,” says eagle expert Grainger Hunt. “There has never been an opportunity to adapt to that sort of threat.”

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