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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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  • by rueger ( 210566 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @03:17AM (#45631189) 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?
  • by Dputiger ( 561114 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @03:17AM (#45631191)

    There is no perfect solution here. I'm not saying companies should erect wind turbines in the middle of nesting areas, but the truth is, there is no risk-free, cost-free, environmental-damage-free answer to the problem of power production. Coal mining is wretched for the environment and coal miners have a nasty habit of dying of black lung. Nuclear power has risks (and I'm a nuclear proponent). The long-term cleanup and environmental repair is very costly if something goes wrong. Solar power is expensive. Wind turbines kill birds.

    At a certain point, the question is "What's an acceptable loss ratio?"

  • So simplistic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by surfdaddy ( 930829 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @03:53AM (#45631291)
    So you want to reduce use of fossil fuels? No technology is foolproof. Nuclear has its dangers. Solar energy would occupy acres of animal habitats. EVERYTHING is a tradeoff. The best solution of all is fewer humans. Do you care to sacrifice your ability to reproduce to help those eagles? I didn't think so.

    How about a more balanced view? How many eagles would really die? How does that compare to the dangers from CO2, from other technologies? What about the habitat ruined by oil wells, natural gas wells, fracking, etc.? It's really not at all as simplistic as this posting implies.

  • by codeusirae ( 3036835 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:47AM (#45631421)
    Was this whole slashdot article typed-up by the (Global warming isn't happening) lobby?
  • by jphamlore ( 1996436 ) <> on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:19AM (#45631599)
    The encouragement of NIMBYism to block projects such as nuclear power has only created blowback that basically blocks everything, including projects vital to wind power. Let's take the example of Europe and powerlines []:

    Many projects can't make any headway because numerous citizens' initiatives are blocking things like high-voltage transmission lines ... "It took over 30 years before a power line between France and Spain could be built," recalls an expert on the EU Commission ... In Germany there are also protests against virtually every major project of the Energiewende

    The article offers a ray of hope that Europe might establish a process where permits are granted in three and a half years with only one court about to stop the process:

    The EU has also taken a brash course on this front: The proposal would make it possible for the 200 top projects in Europe to receive a construction permit within three and a half years -- with only one court that would hear the objections of project opponents.

    Of course imagine the outrage if this short-circuiting of the right of protest and judicial review were granted for other types of energy projects ...

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:40AM (#45631655) Journal

    All they should have to do is paint the blades a color that significantly contrasts the background and place a few streamers on the tips. The spinning blades will appear as a wall when moving fast and a predator when moving slow. Perhaps stripes could make the slow moving blades appear to be more of a threat.

    Eagles are off the endangered species lists now. But they are still protected under the migratory bird treaty or something like that.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:54AM (#45631687) Journal
    In general birds are more likely to fly into the window of a skyscraper than the blade on a large windmill. The most practical thing you can do to help birds is put a bell on your cat's collar.
  • Okay, I will probably be modded down for this, but it's worth saying. And for the record, I'm opposed to needlessly killing animals.

    The first time I heard about eagles being killed by windmills, I imagined one being cut down while flying from point A to point B, not noticing that there was this lethal windmill in its path. Then, I saw a video on a website of an actual eagle death by windmill (and I apologize for not being able to find & post the link here) and was very surprised bu what I saw. Basically, the eagle was "dancing" with the windmill, repeatedly flying around it over and over. Like a moth flying around a flame. Eventually, the two paths intercepted, and the eagle was hit by the blade.

    So part of me wanted to scream "stupid eagle!" and make the natural selection comment. But maybe there is something hypnotic going on that makes the bird want to investigate this strange whirling object?

    Maybe a solution to the problem isn't to grant power companies "permits" to kill eagles, but to find a way to repel them rather than attract them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:34AM (#45632805)

    The blades which are often 125 feet long, do not appear as a solid wall or even as a fast moving thing. They are really quite a surprise to a bird who doesn't anticipate a fast moving target approaching at 90 mph coming from 2:30 position. These blades are stunningly narrow and small in that aspect. It is a deadly swat and done with about 1 second to realize that damage is about to happen. These wind turbines are essentially clear air to the birds and worse yet the approaching low pressure wave probably makes the bird seek to the blade.

    The real solution here is to get rid of the crappy idea of free running turbine blades without grilles or protection. Since a Hyperbolic tower about 760 feet high by 720 diameter represents a trivial aspect compared to a wind farm and could by generating on gated turbines at the bottom greatly simplify the generator technology by accelerating the wind about 5:1 and giving about 200MW output in a 15 knot wind, the game really should be to go over to this.

    Building about 80 of these would equal what T Boone Pickens farm at Pampa Texas does in less area than 40 such regular wind tubines and it would cost less and do more. It could operate in lower and higher wind conditions than his devices. It would stunningly increase equipment reliability and it would make the construction vastly cheaper. It would allow the construction gain on land area of about 200 times the power. This is really a better way.

  • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @03:05PM (#45633853)
    Not antique. Still manufactured by Aermotor Windmills right here in the good old USA, and still the best way to get water out of a well in thousands upon thousands of places. []

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