“The 30-year eagle take regulations are another example of the Obama White House rushing poorly considered policy that will have significant impact. Given the history of collaboration between Big Wind and FWS officials, the motives behind this push should be questioned by Congress and the public.”
WindAction Editorials filed under Impact on Birds
The true intent of AWWI's study is not about accurate mortality estimates. It's about deflecting the problem. The fact is, many more birds (and bats) are dying at operating wind plants than we know. Now is not the time to relax our concern. Rather, we should be demanding that the industry be held accountable for bird mortality once and for all!
The wind industry insists its turbines safely co-exist with birds; that the risk of bird mortality at a modern wind energy facility is low due to proper pre-construction assessments.
Windaction.org joined other environmental interest groups and individuals in submitting a sixty-day notice of federal law violations to the Department of Interior in connection with the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind energy facility. Laws cited include the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
This week, Cleveland Plain Dealer bird blogger, Jim McCarty, wrote a delightful article on the successes of Audubon's Seabird Restoration Program in nurturing and tracking the return of rare seabirds to Maine's coastal areas. Mr. McCarty is obviously a bird enthusiast who has spent time researching and writing about the risks to migrating birds should a "string of colossal power-producing windmills" be erected in Lake Erie.
On July 10, George Wallace of the American Bird Conservancy provided testimony before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans where he stated “The wind industry is prepared to increase the number of turbines 30 fold over the next 20 years ... at the current estimated mortality rate, the wind industry will be killing 900,000 to 1.8 million birds per year. While this number is a relatively small percentage of the total number of birds estimated to live in North America, many of the bird species being killed are already declining for other reasons, and losses of more than a million birds per year would exacerbate these declines.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired this segment on the dramatic decline in bird populations across North America.
Wind proponents regularly assert that bird mortality at wind energy sites averages at a low 2.3 birds per turbine per year. These collision figures were derived from outdated, and inadequate bird mortality studies conducted at land-based wind projects in western United States. William R. Evans, well-known ornithologist with expertise in nocturnal bird migration provided a critique of these studies in his 2004 testimony on the Chautauqua (NY) proposal ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11726 ) where he states the Erickson, et.al. 2001 studies are "now widely seen as prematurely conceived." Evans continues, "the high mortality figures associated with cats and windows predominantly involve plentiful species that are common in suburban and residential neighborhoods or in the vicinity of farms, whereas the species killed at commercial wind turbine facilities and communications towers are largely neotropical migrant songbirds; species of conservation concern that nest in our wild lands." Recent bird mortality research from Europe ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11725 ) found that collisions can vary substantially between sites with mortality as high as 103 to 309 birds/turbine/year. The researchers state that "[mortality] results of individual wind farms can not be generalized" but that "the collision mortality is mostly related to the number of (flying) birds present (at rotor height)". The Erickson et.al. numbers are inappropriately used by proponents to bolster their claims that pre-construction avian surveys are an unnecessary expense.