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Power Government United States

US Issues 30-Year Eagle-Killing Permits To Wind Industry 466

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lindsay Abrams reports at Salon that the Obama administration is offering wind farms 30 years of leeway to kill and harm bald and golden eagles. The new regulations, which were requested by the wind industry, will provide companies that seek a permit with legal protection, preventing them from having to pay penalties for eagle deaths (PDF). An investigation by the Associated Press earlier this year documented the illegal killing of eagles around wind farms, the Obama administration's reluctance to prosecute such cases and its willingness to help keep the scope of the eagle deaths secret. President Obama has championed the pollution-free energy, nearly doubling America's wind power in his first term as a way to tackle global warming. Scientists say wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. However the scientists said their figure is likely to be 'substantially' underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The National Audubon Society said it would challenge the decision."
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US Issues 30-Year Eagle-Killing Permits To Wind Industry

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  • by ExecutorElassus ( 1202245 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @03:27AM (#45631219)
    A not altogether unbiased source [eneweconomy.com.au] has a handy comparison of bird deaths between wind, nukes, and fossil fuels. This is the thing all this hoopla about bird deaths on wind farms conveniently overlooks: the number of wildlife deaths from other industries -- how many birds died in the Deepwater Horizon spill, by the way? -- vastly outpaces those from windmills.

    Yes, it's sad, and I would like to see them mitigated. But it's the same idiocy that makes people compare three high-speed collisions in Tesla Model S fires to the tens of thousands of fires that happen every year in ICEs with nary a peep.
  • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:09AM (#45631319)

    I mean, do we need a VERY HEAVY VEHICLE, even if they are electrically driven, to get us from point A to point B ?

    No, we don't "need" it, but frankly, we don't "need" almost anything in our modern world.

    So we have to get past the "need" aspect and move on to "want".

    My truck weighs 5,700lbs, or about 3 tons. You probably think that is insane. Maybe it is... but it is my right to own it because I like it...

  • Re:Priorities.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:21AM (#45631355) Homepage

    but the wind-farms are a question of survival of the human civilization.

    Hardly. If windfarms dropped off the face of the earth, you might need to find 1-3% from somewhere else, like hydro plants sitting idle, or from nuclear reactors which have been shutdown or furloughed for maintenance. Hell, in Ontario we produce so much electricity that we sell it at a 75% loss to the US, and we're not even at peak generating capacity. In fact, these "green energy" programs [ctvnews.ca] are going to drive up our electricity prices by 42% in the next 5 years. [canadiancontent.net]

    Do you hear that sounds? It's the death of manufacturing and industry where I live.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @05:55AM (#45631553) Homepage

    I'm as green as anyone, but lordy that was some one-sided summary Hugh. Can I at least ask for some other numbers, such as the number of bird kills resulting from pollutants dumped out by the big coal fired plants in Ohio?

    I'd be fine with the number of deaths as a percentage.

    Wikipedia says (with citations) that there's 100,000 Golden Eagles in north America [wikipedia.org] and that large raptorial birds suffer a 5% mortality rate per year [wikipedia.org].

    By my reckoning that's 5,000 dead birds per year, 75,000 since 1997.

    85 of those were due to wind turbines? That's statistical noise.

    (Just like all other reports of bird deaths due to wind turbines...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:50AM (#45631677)

    This law, originally passed in 1940, provides for the protection of the bald eagle and the golden eagle by prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit Bald Eagle sitting in tree (16 U.S.C. 668(a); 50 CFR 22). "Take" includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3). The 1972 amendments increased civil penalties for violating provisions of the Act to a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment. The fine doubles for an organization. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.

    In other news (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3033412/posts), an Indiana man was charged this week with the unlawful possession of a bald eagle, which the man says he cared for and rescued from the mud pit in which it was trapped. The former Department of Natural Resources employee, Jeffrey Henry, could face up to 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine as part of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

    Law is the will of the powerful.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:10AM (#45631733) Homepage

    So why bother with the exemption. If the number is so few, what possible difference can the equally small fine really amount to.

    Because killing eagles is illegal and there's thousands of the lawyers who'll just see "free money" and make people's lives miserable.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:12AM (#45631737) Homepage

    ... vertical wind turbines which are far safer and quieter.

    Turbines aren't noisy. They're not motor-driven propellers, they move *with* the air.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:29AM (#45631799)

    BP has spent in excess of $20bn to aid cleanup, their executive team got axed, their share price is valued below the sum total value of the company's assets and they are still in the process of one lawsuit after another.

    Sure sounds like business as usual to me.

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:25AM (#45631953)

    They still make noise. It's a quiet, but persistent thunk-thunk-thunk. Just because the air moves them doesn't make them silent any more than leaves on a tree are silent in the wind.

    Source: I've been around some goddamn wind turbines.

  • by Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:06AM (#45632105) Homepage Journal

    But were they Bald Eagles? Cuz let's be honest, no one gives a fuck about sea gulls.

    In all fairness: most of the world doesn't give a fuck about bald eagles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:09AM (#45632115)

    'thunk-thunk-thunk' - one of those antique water pumping windmills?

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:35AM (#45632223) Homepage

    You don't think Turbines are noisy? You don't live near a wind farm, do you? A wind farm generates lots of low frequency impulsive sound.

    Sure, but to suggest they generate a 1Hz sound that makes people ill from a mile away is ludicrous.

    If they were that loud the shockwaves would make your internal organs explode if you went anywhere near them.

  • by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:15AM (#45632411)

    I took a tour to a wind farm as a kind of fact finding when they were trying to put one in my area (eventually killed by NIMBY's, none of which went on any of the offered tours). Sure they make noise but your example is quite accurate, its about as much as wind through trees. Standing with one looming overhead it was barely perceivable with no traffic, no trees in the area and everyone quite from a just finished speech from one of the guides. Even standing right at the base it was less noise then you would have standing by a maple on a mildly windy fall day. We were told that some atmospheric conditions could significantly increase the noise (humidity, low temperatures) but if it can increase turbine noise it probably increases other local noises as well (traffic, trees, etc).

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:53AM (#45632943) Homepage

    Eagles really shouldn't be considered endangered. They're all over the place in Alaska / Canada -to the point where they are essentially a nuisance species (110 dB squawking at 0300 outside your window). The electrocute themselves on powerlines, get run over by cars (because they're stupid and slow) and mostly serve to impress tourists.

    Benjamin Franklin [greatseal.com] was right (again).

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal