NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bald Eagles Fall to Green Energy

May 24, 2012

The Obama administration has promoted "green" energy more than any of its predecessors, arguing that it is a vital next step in the country's energy future.  And while the president's environmental team has painted its efforts in the best light possible, there remains a dirty little secret about wind energy specifically: it has a nasty tendency to kill birds, including bald eagles, says Deroy Murdock, a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

All cleanliness and energy production aside, wind turbines are still essentially giant fans with blades that can move up to 200 miles per hour.  The result is dozens if not hundreds of mutilated eagles.

  • The current annual bird mortality rate due to wind turbines is approximately 440,000 birds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
  • This figure is estimated by the FWS to increase to more than a million by 2030, when the number of wind turbines will likely exceed 100,000 turbines.
  • Eagles are killed regularly -- because they are birds of prey, they often glide while scanning the ground, failing to see wind turbines.
  • The Altamont Pass wind farm in Northern California alone is estimated to kill 67 golden eagles annually.

Perhaps of greatest interest in this case is the double standard maintained by the Obama administration.  While politically favored wind energy projects are allowed to go about their business despite these bloody consequences, the law is exacted harshly on all others.

  • First-time violators of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 can receive $5,000 fines and one-year prison sentences.
  • Second offenses double those punishments, and felony convictions can trigger $250,000 fines.
  • Last August Obama-appointed U.S. attorney Timothy Purdon prosecuted seven petroleum producers for the 28 dead birds in or near their open waste pits (none of which were eagles), with maximum fines of $15,000 per bird and six months behind bars.
  • Last July, FWS threatened to fine Alison Capo of Virginia $535 for illegally possessing a woodpecker that her daughter saved from a hungry cat and soon released.
  • Three years ago, after FWS investigated, a utility called PacifiCorp paid $10.5 million in fines after accidentally electrocuting 232 golden eagles.

Source: Deroy Murdock, "Bald Eagles Fall to Green Energy," National Review, May 21, 2012.

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