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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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  • PC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wallsg ( 58203 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @03:19AM (#45631193)

    Windmills: The Politically Correct way to kill eagles.

  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @03:53AM (#45631289)

    It's crazy.

    The environmentalists don't appear to have anyone on their team who understand the amount (or even the magnitude) of the energy consumed globally to make it all work. That, or their desire for renewables is biased by an anti-capitalist desire to collapse the economy. I don't know.

    Brass tacks: We need -massive- amounts of energy, we will need even more, and there are two options - hydrocarbons and nuclear.

    The governments of the world should all have Manhattan-style projects to solve nuclear fusion, alternative fission reactors, and solve the battery storage problem - be it super-cap technology or something else.

    Instead we waste time dicking about with windmill foolishness. Sigh.

    Keep it up. Go team.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:10AM (#45631323) Homepage Journal


    Provide much less energy than fusion energy from the sun because there is a finite amout of the stuff in the ground. Same for uranium.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:11AM (#45631325)

    The *real* simplest solution is to put the stuff that lasts a Very Long Time, into a Very Deep and Stable Place.

    THAT is the simplest solution. Not your fantasy of getting a few billion people to live the backwards lifestyle you won't even accede to yourself (oh wait, that was supposed to apply to you and not just the peasants?).

  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:13AM (#45631331)

    Brass tacks: We need -massive- amounts of energy, we will need even more, and there are two options - hydrocarbons and nuclear.

    There's a third option for massive amounts of energy. The gigantic nuclear furnace floating 90 million miles away. It provides more than enough energy for all our needs. It's just a matter of collection. Wind farms are one way of collecting that energy.

  • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:14AM (#45631335)

    Maybe it's because fracking is accused of polluting rivers and water tables, leaking gas, damaging pristine areas, damaging country roads, using massive amounts of water, (encouraging consumption) and triggering earthquakes...
    Windmills are accused of being ugly (not by me), being noisy, not always turning, and killings birds

    Are these really equivalent?

  • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:18AM (#45631347)

    Can I get a thirty-year exemption on side-effects of killing birds with my windshield?

    I don't often go over the 100+ mph that the tip of windmills can attain, but I still find that some birds do deserve it when natural selection happens to them. Like my car, a windmill isn't exactly quiet nor hard to spot.

  • by celle ( 906675 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:37AM (#45631401)

    "Do we need to turn our home into a greenhouse every winter ?"

          As someone who just spent the last month with stiff joints, various other extremities issues, little sleep, etc., due to a 68 degree house in a 30 degree outside environment and now has no problems with the temperature at 78 F inside while it's minus 5 F with a blizzard going on outside I say YES!!!!!

    "A much more simple way is to cut down on our wasteful lifestyle."

            When self-torture is in and being wasteful isn't comfortable and fun then maybe. Until then:
    Fuck off you politically correct panty waist.

    I learned long ago that it's not worth fucking yourself up if you don't have too.

  • by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @05:10AM (#45631489)

    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...

    No, it's your right to own it, because you can afford it, and don't believe in taking any personal responsibility for common resources, even when it would not decrease your quality of life (a more sensible car would actually improve your quality of life, most likely).

    Because you want.

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @05:44AM (#45631533)

    I think, in this whole debate there is a lot of confused issues.

    Yes, eagles are important in the eco-system as top-level predators, but they are not the only important thing; they are just "iconic", whatever that means (it probably just means they sell better ). But all part of the environment are important - including conckroaches, rats and intestinal parasites; they are just not so "iconic". It is the balance that is important, the totality.

    Humans are also part of the environment, and we are not always harmful. Quite a lot of the landscapes we try to preserve are man-made; humans keep cattle; cattle eat everything over a certain height, opening op the landscape for a large number of small species that would not otherwise survive there, etc.

    Also, we are not the only species with a potentially negative impact on the environment; but we do seem to be the only species with the ability to understand the impact we have. And with that understanding comes, of course, the opportunity to make an informed choice. Some would say we have a moral obligation to make the best choice, according to our undestanding.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:15AM (#45631747)

    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?

    Your question makes your assertion incorrect: a typical "green" person doesn't think in terms of "best alternative", but simply opposes whatever is being done since it will inevitably have some consequences. Can't build coal plants, they pollute; can't build nuclear, it leaves radiactive waste; can't build dams, they drown habitats; can't built wind farms, they kill (blind) birds. Dunno what the excuse for solar will be, but I'd wager the sheer amount of land covered. Heck, Greenpeace has already declared they're going to be opposing fusion [], should it ever become viable, since it's still nuclear.

    The green movement is all about reacting, and usually pretty irrationally at that. It's the worst enemy of actually protecting environment. Imagine, for example, if the anti-nuclear sentiment had never existed: we'd have Gen-IV reactors rather than fossil fuels powering the grid, and the resulting cheap reliable electricity would be simultaneously driving both an economic boom and adoption of electric cars, and the resulting investment in battery tech would in turn make renewables viable in areas too risky for nuclear. But it did, so we have the double-whammy of expensive energy and climate change hammering our economy at the same time instead, with the predictable result of failing to do much of anything about either. Thanks, Greenpeace.

  • by gravis777 ( 123605 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:15AM (#45631751)

    You know, I get associated with right-winged conservatives all the time (probably for good reason), but I found this article stupid, and just another effort to blame the Obama Administration for something else.

    Do you have any idea how many wind turbines there are in California alone? Add to that all the wind turbines in Texas, plus all those strung out over the other 37 states that have wind power, and the fact that ONLY 85 eagles have been killed by them over 15 years is a pretty darn low number. I was expecting to read something like 100 per year. (Okay, granted, Texas isn't really the home of bald eagles)

    I get it, I am a patriot, and the hearing that any eagle are killed doesn't sit too well with me. But seriously, 85 over 15 years?

    How about an article saying how many animals are ALIVE from us going to windpower and reducing the amount of pollutant in the enviornment?

    The Obama Administration issuing permits to wind power companies protecting them from prosecution because a bird is stupid enough to fly into a turbine sounds like a logical move to me.

    Now if we were talking hundred or more birds killed a year in the same area, the argument could be made to disassemble some turbines in a given area. But these incidents sound pretty remote. The Altaria Wind Farm in California has 490 turbines. (source [] ). I am too lazy to go and look at how many turbines there are total near eagle nesting area, but once again, the numbers reported are really low. (The article does state though that not all deaths are reported, so I can accept that hese numbers may be higher).

    Now if the poster can think of a way to get clean energy without any side effects, please tell us, and we will consider you for a Nobel Prize.

  • by C0R1D4N ( 970153 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:31AM (#45631809)
    But were they Bald Eagles? Cuz let's be honest, no one gives a fuck about sea gulls.
  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:38AM (#45631831)

    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?

    The two greatest killers of birds in the US are feral cats and window panes in tall buildings. I'm not sure, however, that those are particularly dangerous to eagles, of all things. The article is ludicruous, though:

    As wind turbines are essentially, if inadvertently, designed to take down eagles

    Excuse me? That's like saying that cars are "essentially designed to mow down pedestrians". I mean, really?

    Also, while the deaths are regrettable, and if the company was found out not to have taken steps to prevent bird deaths that could have been prevented, they ought to be sanctioned, these two particular bird species are not exactly what one might call endangered.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:43AM (#45631835)

    Always ignorant of their hypocrisy.

    "If you don't like it, move to China" ring a bell?

  • by Cochonou ( 576531 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:14AM (#45631927) Homepage
    There are also many people getting run over by cars which were neither quiet nor hard to spot. Natural selection for them too ?
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:25AM (#45631955) Homepage

    And Al Gore wants a huge mansion, because he wants one ... so you're all over him too, right?

    I would be, if I were talking to him. Him being a hypocrite has nothing to do with whether it's moral to own a big truck when you don't really need one.

    For what it's worth, my standard on what sized vehicle is in any way justified is the amount of stuff it carries on a regular basis: Landscaper owns a pickup so he can stick all his tools, mowers, leaf blowers, etc in the back? Fine. Software developer owns a pickup so he can feel manly when driving to work? Luxury. Soccer mom owns an SUV to haul around 4 kids all day? Fine. College girl owns SUV because mom and dad think that will make her safer than driving a sedan? Again, luxury. And actually the most virtuous thing for an office worker going to work alone would be a motorcycle, since they can put a Prius to shame in the fuel efficiency department.

    So it's not a class thing. What is actually going on is that without carbon taxes, the free market doesn't price the cost of CO2 emissions into pricing, so you don't end up making economic decisions based on it. Of course, if you don't think CO2 emissions matter at all, than nothing I can write about this will move you in any way whatsoever.

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:47AM (#45632025) Journal

    You complain about the "typical green". Sorry, never met such a guy.

    And then you behave like the "typical pro nuclear".

    Sorry, I don't see any difference in your mindset than the mindset you complain about.

  • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <> on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:51AM (#45632055)

    You can drive anything you want, as long as you compensate society for the harm it causes. Right now vehicles are not paying fairly for the damage they do, even in areas with more sensible taxes on fuel. I.e. right now I am paying for your choice of car, and that makes me unhappy.

    As to Al Gore mentioned later, we live in a capitalistic society. That means that rich people get to do more damage to the environment and consume more resources. If you want to get away from capitalism, by all means fight for that, but fair resource allocation and mitigation of environmental damage are two distinct causes.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:15AM (#45632407) Homepage

    Oh [] really? []

    If you buy for fuel efficiency, you can put a smug Prius driver to shame. At a very reasonable price. Simple physics explains why: bike+rider is about 700 pounds, car+driver is about 3500 pounds, so you need much less force to move the bike, which more than offsets the less efficient engines and aerodynamics possible on bikes.

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:40AM (#45632527) Homepage
    accused of, but never proven. Here we have proof that wind mills are in fact killing endagered animals, and instead they get a federal exemption
  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:50AM (#45632927)

    No. Put the bells on the turbines.

    Or, put those "deer whistles" on each and every blade...multiple places. Sure, It'd cost millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of man hours, but what the hell, that's never stopped the EPA before.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @12:00PM (#45633003) Homepage Journal

    Well, start with the conservation status of the birds. Both species are rated as "Least Concern" -- which means no identifiable conservation issues.

    In the 1950s there were only 412 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the US, due to hunting and DDT. By 1995 they were taken off the endangered lists, and five years ago they were taken off the "threatened" list. By now there are nearly ten thousand breeding pairs in the lower 48. Half of US states have at least 100 breeding pairs.

    From an environmental viewpoint it's quite reasonable to stop treating an occasional accidental bald eagle death as some kind of serious event. For healthy population, an individual removed is room for another individual, just as with reasonable levels of deer hunting. Emitting more carbon in order to stop a handful of eagle accidents makes no sense at all.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.