This morning we woke to news from California that at least six golden eagles were slaughtered at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Pine Tree Wind Project in the Tehachapi Mountains. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating, but so far, no wind energy company has been prosecuted by federal wildlife authorities in connection with the death of birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
As long as the Department of the Interior permits the wind industry to continue its charade that these bird deaths, like others in California and elsewhere, are an anomaly and that the turbines are otherwise safe for wildlife, the impacts will continue unabated. It's time for the public to stand up and demand that wind developers, who cloak themselves in "green", take responsibility for the destruction left in their wake.
The below message from the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is something we should all be willing to support. Please take a moment today and send your comments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Press release from the ABC:
New Wind Guidelines Need Improvements for Wildlife
The Department of the Interior has released new voluntary guidelines for wind development that reverse agency protection recommendations for birds and add an unrealistic deadline that would lead to "rubber-stamping" of wind projects. Because the guidelines are not mandatory, contain significant loopholes, and offer "benefit of [law] enforcement discretion" under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, American Bird Conservancy believes changes are needed to minimize potential harm to birds.
The new guidelines could allow harm to come birds by giving FWS biologists responsibility to review wind projects within an extremely truncated deadline, and without the funding to hire the requisite additional staff. If FWS misses this deadline, it's unclear whether wind projects that move along without FWS input would still receive "benefit of enforcement discretion." In addition, the new guidelines remove protections for both birds and people that FWS biologists had recommended in their peer-reviewed guidelines, including:
* Allowing greater latitude in installing overhead power lines between wind turbines, which increases the risk to larger birds such as eagles, hawks, and cranes, instead of burying the lines.
* Removing a recommendation that wind developers address wildfire risk and response planning, something that could be potentially very important, especially in Western communities or areas experiencing drought.
* Removing a recommendation that wind developers avoid discharging sediment from roads into streams and waters, a standard recommendation at construction sites that protects water quality.
* Removing a recommendation to avoid active wind turbine construction during key periods in the life histories of fish and wildlife, such as the nesting season for migratory birds.
Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org until Aug. 4.