Allow how many eagles to die?

Utilities are looking to extend the length of a special permit they get that allows for incidental golden and bald eagle kills from wind turbines. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has posted a plan on the Federal Register  to extend the public comment period about lengthening the permit period from five to 30 years and allowing the permit to be passed from one party to another.

The American Bird Conservancy has said that is a bad idea in a story today by UT San Diego. Too much can happen to eagle populations in that length of time and a 30 year permit does not allow for adaptive rules or protections.

I fully get why a wind-turbine company may want a clear path for 30 years. But that’s too long.  The system should have checks and balances. A shorter permit period would allow for modifications if problems arise.

The expansion of wind energy is good, but we don’t let hydro-power go unchecked and grind up tons of fish without recourse. Hydro-facilities have to consider fisheries impacts in order to get a license. Utilities shouldn’t have a 30 year blank check on eagles.

Read more: Proposal for eagle-kill permits.

About Howard Meyerson

After more than 30 years in the outdoor writing business, you would think I'd know better.
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3 Responses to Allow how many eagles to die?

  1. michiganaudubon says:

    Very powerful, very important piece, HM. Thank you for keeping this issue at the forefront.


  2. William Richardson says:

    It’s always a question of tradeoffs. Renewable energy sources like wind will reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and help reduce climate change which is now obviously accelerating. How many birds are killed due to forest fires caused by dry conditions? How much habitat is destroyed by rising ocean levels? Wind generators may not have zero impact on the environment but may help by preventing wars from fights over foreign oil. How many birds are killed during wars? Southwest Ontario is filled with wind generators and we should ask our Canadian friends about their overall impact.


  3. The point is not “harvesting wind energy is one of the many human activities that kills birds,” but rather is wind energy development taking into account impacts on wildlife. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is not required to build a wind farm. Voluntary evaluations of development sites for impacts on wildlife occur sometimes, but are of questionable validity. My concern is an “eggs in one basket” mentality about wind that’s driven by public perception that wind turbines are safe, graceful giants that will relieve the US of dependence on foreign oil. The truest and best form of alternative energy, in my opinion, is energy efficiency. Buildings consume 50% of the energy in the United States. This strikes me as a massive opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of our built environment, while employing thousands of already-trained, already-skilled American workers. Such a move would boost employment, new construction, improved housing, and put money back into homeowners’ pockets so they can drive up the economy. Subsidizing the improvement of energy efficiency is MUCH more worthwhile on many, many levels than subsidizing wind energy development, which, by the way, is conducted by the same folks drilling for oil and gas all around the globe.


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