Impact on Birds and USA
Wildlife conservationists and energy developers alike found some encouragement in Friday's announcement that the sage grouse won't be listed as a threatened or endangered species.
Many agreed that such a listing would have had a chilling effect on the agriculture and minerals industries, which are the foundation of Wyoming's economy.
According to the project's final EIS, the geographic limits of the Grand Canyon condor population as determined by FWS overlap the project's proposed footprint. Condor can fly up to 160 miles a day in searching for food, and the Grand Canyon "experimental" population is well within that range of the Mohave County Wind Farm.
"What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, who helped prosecute the PacifiCorp power line case.
By not enforcing the law, the administration provides little incentive for companies to build wind farms where there are fewer birds.
AWEA claims the guidance could delay the construction of projects by up to three years and require operating projects to retroactively conduct post-construction wildlife studies for a minimum of two years and as much as five years, adding unforeseen costs to the operating budgets of these facilities.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service predicts that between 8 and 14 American bald eagles could be killed annually if New Era Wind Farm is built as currently designed. The outcome of USFWS's eagle mortality models are dramatically higher than one eagle every-other-year as predicted by New Era's consultant Westwood Professional Services.
The slaughter at Altamont Pass is being raised by avian scientists who say the drive among environmentalists to rapidly boost U.S. wind farm power 20 times could lead to massive bird losses and even extinctions.
New wind projects "have the potential of killing a lot of migratory birds," said Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy at the American Bird Conservancy in Washington. ...Officials in the wind energy industry say migratory birds and birds of prey, including eagles, are killed each year at some of the nation's biggest wind farms, but they say the concerns are overstated.
The growing U.S. wind power industry is drawing increased scrutiny from states and the federal government over the problem of spinning wind turbines killing birds. ..."Without guidelines, controversies and conflicts between wind developers and wildlife groups will only get worse and slow down projects and make it harder to get financing," Levin said in an interview.
American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation's leading bird conservation organization, today said that the cancellation of the Xcel Energy Inc. 150-megawatt, $400 million wind farm in southeastern North Dakota reflects how serious bird mortality issues are in connection with the burgeoning wind farm industry.
The wind-energy industry is objecting to federal legislation that seeks to protect birds and bats from wind turbines, arguing the measure would place unnecessary burdens on clean-energy projects.
The Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act, a wide-ranging energy bill introduced this month, would create new standards for the placement and construction of turbines and mandate post-construction monitoring of their effects on wildlife.
An environmental group wants Congress to protect birds as part of new tax credits for wind energy currently under consideration.
The tax-writing committees on both sides of the hill are working on legislation to extend production tax credits for wind power and other renewable energy. Wind power advocates are pressing for the extension of the 1.9-cents-per-kilowatt-hour credit, which they say is crucial for projects to attract funding.
Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy will ask Congress today to be sure to link any federal tax credit or subsidy to a requirement that companies mitigate harm to federally protected migratory birds.
Fry is one of several bird advocates testifying before the House Natural Resources Committee today on wind power's effects on birds and bats. ‘Any renewal of the production tax credit for wind energy should include provisions that require developers follow best management practices in avoiding and minimizing bird and wildlife impacts, Fry said in a statement released yesterday.
Wind energy has been touted as cost-effective to produce clean energy as well as jobs. That promise, along with new government subsidies, has helped wind turbines pop up on hills and fields throughout America. But not every environmentalist is happy about that development. Critics charge that wind-energy development can cause habitat fragmentation-a displacement of a species that can eventually reduce its numbers-as well as the deaths of birds and bats (a species that is especially vulnerable due to its low reproductive rates) that collide with the wind turbines' massive rotor blades.
Cape Wind critics threw up an eleventh-hour roadblock this week, accusing two U.S. government agencies that approved portions of the proposed offshore wind energy project of violating federal laws.
"We put them on notice," said Lisa Linowes, executive director of the Industrial Wind Action Group, which tracks the benefits of wind energy projects.
Her group and eight others filed a 60-day notice of violations with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia sided with conservation groups that claimed the Federal Communications Commission violated government rules by approving communications towers that threaten migratory birds.
The court is requiring the agency to conduct at least the minimal analysis on the environmental effect of cell, radio, television and other towers built in the Gulf Coast region, as the groups requested.
“There is no real dispute that towers ‘may’ have significant environmental impact” to meet a certain threshold, according to the ruling. ...“This is a significant ruling ... because the D.C. Circuit is directing the FCC for the first time to carefully assess the impact of communication towers on birds,” said Stephen Roady, attorney with Earthjustice, a public interest law firm representing the American Bird Conservancy Inc. and Forest Conservation Council.
Is the pursuit of fewer dropped calls leading to more dropping birds?
The lights atop communications towers that warn pilots to stay away can have a come-hither effect on birds - killing millions of migrating warblers, thrushes and other species every year.
During bad weather, birds can mistake tower lights for the stars they use to navigate. They will circle a tower trancelike, often until they crash into the structure, its guy wires or other birds. Sometimes disoriented birds simply plummet to the ground from exhaustion.
The federal government has charged PacifiCorp and Exxon Mobil Corp. in two unrelated cases with killing scores of migratory birds in Wyoming, according to court documents filed last week in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.
PacifiCorp, which does business in Wyoming as Rocky Mountain Power, is charged in a 34-count criminal information document with the deaths of 38 golden eagles at power poles in six counties from December 2007 to February 2009.
WASHINGTON - An unusual coalition of conservationists and coal advocates told Congress on Tuesday that before the nation continues its rapid expansion of wind power, an assessment is needed of how many bats and birds are maimed and killed by wind turbines' blades.
That study should be followed up with regulations to protect those species, witnesses told a House Natural Resources subcommittee.
In September, a report by the Government Accountability Office found that the federal government offers minimal oversight in approving wind-power plants. The report urged federal officials to take a more active role in weighing the effect of wind power farms on bird and bat deaths
Birds have no inkling as to the hazards of getting too close to high-powered electricity. As a result, if a bird touches two or more wires, the meeting is fatal. Electricity in wires is similar to controlled lightning; the current is always searching for a way back to the earth.
Wind turbine memorial. Illustration: Rob Biddulph Imagine that at the flick of a switch, you could not only turn a light on or off but select which power source you were going to use. Would an eco warrior choose wind power or coal? Surely this is a no-brainer.