Quantcast
Energy
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Gage Skidmore

Ryan Zinke Blames Wind Turbines for Contributing to Global Warming

At the CERAWeek energy industry conference in Houston this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he's "pro-energy across the board" but made it clear that he's in favor of oil and gas over other types of domestic energy production.

According to Bloomberg, Zinke praised the Trump administration's push for fossil fuels, from expanding offshore oil drilling to slashing regulations. He also advocated for a partnership with oil and gas companies.


"Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. We should be in the business of being a partner," the former Montana Congressman said in front of representatives from energy companies and oil-producing countries.

Zinke admitted that "certainly oil and gas and coal have a consequence on carbon," but he then slammed wind turbines for their carbon footprint and for killing birds—a notorious charge from his windmill-hating boss in the White House.

"We probably chop us as many as 750,000 birds a year with wind, and the carbon footprint on wind is significant," Zinke said.

Zinke's remark is peculiar for two reasons. First, as TIME pointed out:

"Spread out over the life cycle of a typical turbine, scientists estimate that the typical wind plant generates between .02 and .04 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Even at the high end, that's less than 3 percent of the emissions from coal-generated electricity and less than 7 percent of the emissions from natural gas-generated electricity."

Secondly, yes, birds are killed by turbines, but "Zinke is exaggerating the figure beyond virtually all published estimates," Axios noted, adding "turbines are a drop in the bucket when it comes to the human-related causes of bird deaths."

Here's a graph from Zinke's own agency for measure. Note how oil pits kill far many more birds than turbines.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Even the National Audubon Society issued a response to Zinke's exaggerated bird-death figure, pointing out that global warming is far more harmful to birds.

"Wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year, but the biggest threat to birds is climate change," said Garry George, Audubon's director of renewable energy. "More than half of the bird species in North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures."

The Audubon favors properly-sited and operated wind and solar power, as renewable energy sources that help reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change.

During the same CERAWeek talk, Zinke ranted against solar facilities built on public lands for taking up hunting and recreational space, Bloomberg reported.

However, the interior secretary sure doesn't seem to object when oil and gas interests want to take the lands.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular

12 Great Summertime Reads

Summer is a time for escape reading. But that designation need not be limited to fiction; books written for the general reader on topics outside one's area of expertise can also provide passage to exciting new places. This month's bookshelf includes six non-fiction titles, five novels and one collection of short stories. The last three titles are now in paperback, suitable for a vacation or some beach time. Good reading to you!

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Cosmos Offers Clues to the Fate of Humans on Earth

By Marlene Cimons

Astrophysicist Adam Frank sees climate change through a cosmic lens. He believes our present civilization isn't the first to burn up its resources—and won't be the last. Moreover, he thinks it's possible the same burnout fate already might have befallen alien worlds. That's why he says the current conversation about climate change is all wrong. "We shouldn't be talking about saving the planet, because the Earth will go on without us," he said. "We should be talking about saving ourselves."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Chicago skyline on April 20, 2017. Chris Favero / CC BY-SA 2.0

Big Cities, Bright Lights: Ranking the Worst Light Pollution on Earth

By Dipika Kadaba

The amount of artificial lighting is steadily increasing every year around the planet. It's a cause for celebration in remote villages in Africa and the Indian sub-continent that recently gained access to electricity for the first time, but it is also harming the health and well-being of residents of megacities elsewhere that continue to get bigger and brighter every year.

Health impacts of this artificial illumination after daylight hours range from depression to cancer, including a range of sleep disorders.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
velkr0 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Texas Supreme Court Rules Cities Cannot Ban Plastic Bags

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo's plastic bag ban—a decision that will likely overturn similar bans in about a dozen other cities, including Austin, Fort Stockton and Port Aransas.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Ryan Zinke visits Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota on May 25. Sherman Hogue / U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Report: Trump Admin. Suppressing Media Access of Government Scientists

A new Trump administration protocol requires U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to run interview requests with the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to journalists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move is a departure from past media practices that allowed government scientists to quickly respond to journalists' inquiries, according to unnamed USGS employees interviewed by the Times.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Icebergs calving from an ice shelf in West Antarctica. NASA / GSFC / Jefferson Beck / CC BY-SA 2.0

Good News From Antarctica: Rising Bedrock Could Save Vulnerable Ice Sheet

After last week's disturbing news that ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, another study published Thursday offers some surprising good news for the South Pole and its vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as "uplift," at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Memphis Meats

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!