Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Feds Extend Permits to 30 Years for Wind Farms for Accidental Eagle Kills

Business
Feds Extend Permits to 30 Years for Wind Farms for Accidental Eagle Kills

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The rift between the wind power industry and wildlife advocates will likely grow as a result of an expanded federal permitting process for wind projects.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced that some wind energy companies will be granted 30-year permits that allow them to operate without worrying about punishment for killing bald and golden eagles. The federal Fish and Wildlife Service began issuing the permits in 2009, but they only lasted a maximum of five years, opening the office to criticism from industry members who said the permits should match the length of long-term investments.

Now, much of the criticism comes from those concerned about wildlife safety.

"Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check," National Audubon Society President David Yarnold said in a statement.

"It's outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America's symbol, the bald eagle."

The revised Eagle Act allows the Fish and Wildlife Service to "authorize the programmatic take of eagles, which is take associated with, but not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity and does not have a long-term impact on the population," according to the Department of Interior. The term 'take' is defined as killing, injuring or disturbing.

“Renewable energy development is vitally important to our nation’s future, but it has to be done in the right way,” said secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “The changes in this permitting program will help the renewable energy industry and others develop projects that can operate in the longer term, while ensuring bald and golden eagles continue to thrive for future generations.”

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) vice president of public affairs Peter Kelley told the Los Angeles Times that the permits won't be granted without strict supervision.

"You have to document all of the different ways you'll preserve the eagles," he said. "You'll be checked on every five years. Even then, if more eagles are dying than you expected, you have to do more things or lose your permit."

AWEA's official statement on the ruling said it promotes eagle conservation, but some wildlife advocates aren't so sure about that. Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of the conservancy's wind energy campaign, says the revision essentially legislates the killing of bald and golden eagles.

Hutchins is also concerned with the revisions in light of the country's desire to be 20 percent powered by renewables by 2030 as well as President Barack Obama's recent demands that the federal government triple its renewable energy deployment. Hutchins worries that more wind farms means more bird deaths.

"The Obama administration has called for 20 percent of our energy to be generated by renewables by 2030. That's approximately 12 times the amount of power generated," Hutchins said. "If it's not done right, what kind of an impact is that going to have on birds and bats?"

AWEA says less than 2 percent of human-caused eagle fatalities are caused by "modern wind facilities."

Duke Energy was the first wind utility to ever face prosecution for the deaths of birds. The U.S. Department of Justice announced a $1 million settlement with the company in late November.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch