Advocacy Groups Say 1,000 Wind Turbine Project Could Cause Eagle Deaths
Groups like the American Bird Conservancy and Biodiversity Conservation Alliance are willing to be allies to wind energy, but only when they don't believe that animals are at grave risk.
The two organizations voiced opposition this week to plans for a large wind facility in Wyoming that would include 1,000 turbines on an equal amount of private and federal properties. The Power Co. of Wyoming received initial approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior for the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project in 2012, but problems arose for the advocacy group when it learned that the wind farm operator filed an "eagle take" application, which, if approved, would protect Power Company of Wyoming LLC from responsibility for any eagle deaths caused by its turbines.
The groups say the 220,000-acre project could represent the first eagle take permit for a wind-energy facility. They lament the fact that it could be granted to a facility that would be capable of powering nearly 1 million homes.
The ABC and BCA voiced their concerns in a 15-page letter after they received a request for comment from the the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees much of the property where the turbines could wind up. The ABC and BCA believe the farms could kill 46 to 64 golden eagles per year.
"ABC and BCA support the development of renewable energy resources such as wind, but it has to be done responsibly," Dr. Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of ABC's Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign. "The serious gaps in data and key information surrounding both the project and the proposed permit make it impossible to conclude that appropriate protections for eagles are being followed under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act."
The Department of Interior plans on beginning an analysis of the Chokecherry permit in April, while the Sierra Madre portion's analysis should be complete in July.
"Sufficient, definitive and long-term data simply does not exist to assure this colossal wind farm will not severely impact eagle and other bird populations in this important wildlife area," BCA's Wild Species program director Duane Short said. "In fact, the data that do exist suggests just the opposite—that significant impacts will occur."
The groups would like to see a pilot program for the take permits with much smaller wind projects. Chokecherry and Sierra Madre are slated to generate 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts of energy.
The letter from the ABC and BCA also suggests that BLM should move turbine arrays away from rims and canyon walls, where raptors might gather.
"The proposed 50-meter setback is inadequate," the groups wrote. "Eagle prey areas should also be avoided."
The American Wind Energy Association previously estimated that less than 2 percent of human-caused eagle fatalities are caused by “modern wind facilities.” In December, the U.S. Department of Interior extended the 2009 eagle permitting rule from five years to 30 years.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
Bill Maher is sick of billionaires' obsession with Mars, more like "Mars-a-Lago," he said.
In a new animation produced by ATTN:, the popular talk show host of Real Time, discusses the perils of our planet, including how "climate change is killing us."
A group of prominent climate scientists have written a study explicitly refuting statements made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on climate data. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Pruitt claimed in a written response that satellite data shows a "leveling off" of warming over the past two decades.
By David Pomerantz
The Nevada Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would dramatically increase the growth of renewable energy in the state, but Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major donor to Donald Trump, is attempting to prevent the bill from becoming law.
By Yosola Olorunshola
Whether it's through fashion or protest, Vivienne Westwood is not a woman afraid of making a statement.
On May 23, she rocked up to the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London with a special guest—the Grim Reaper—to issue a strong statement on the Church of England's position on fracking.
By Paul Brown
The food industry and big agricultural concerns are driving climate change and at the same time threatening to undermine efforts to feed the world's growing population, according to GRAIN, an organization that supports small farmers.
Particularly singled out for criticism are the large chemical fertilizer producers that have gained access to the United Nations talks on climate change. GRAIN accuses them of behaving like the fossil fuel companies did in the 1990s, pushing false information in the hope of delaying real action on climate change.
By Sydney Robinson
By John Rogers
Maybe it's because I first started working on clean energy while serving in the Peace Corps he founded, or maybe it's my years of working on these issues from his home state. But I can't help thinking about the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth, and connecting his stirring rhetoric to the energy challenges of our times.
Here's what our 35th president might have said about the challenges of energy transition and the opportunities in clean energy:
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said Wednesday in its 2017 annual review that the solar industry alone provides more than three million jobs worldwide, and projected that the renewable industry could employ 24 million people by 2030.