Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from California
Across the nation, about 450,000 birds are killed every year at wind farms. According to Dave Bittner, executive director for the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona, golden eagles are another bird species vulnerable to the windmills. "They're big soaring birds and they like to hunt under the towers," he said.
“Our community and surrounding area will be devastated if Invenergy is allowed to build their 125 new turbines on Campo tribal land, and Iberdrola Renewables is allowed to build their Tule Wind project in McCain Valley with 134 turbines, and Enel Green Power is allowed to build their 80 or so turbines in Jewel Valley and McCain Valley,” Bonfiglio wrote.
Audubon and other bird advocates say the DWP should have done more extensive monitoring before building the 90 or so turbines at Pine Tree. Killing a golden eagle is a federal crime.
"The increasing golden eagle mortality at Pine Tree clearly points to wind turbines built in the wrong location," said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. The utility needs to redesign its 250-megawatt Pine Tree network and Kern County needs to put a moratorium on construction of nearby wind farms to prevent deaths, Anderson said.
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the Antelope Valley, voiced his opposition, saying birds could strike the towers, pose a safety hazard to planes and would not be in keeping with "the rural character" that "makes the Antelope Valley unique and valuable."
With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warning that most of the planned wind projects for the Tehachapi pose a threat to the condor, such questions are not academic and could potentially even land companies like Google and Citibank in the cross-hairs should a bird be killed. ..."The take of an endangered species is a violation of the law and the culpable entity would be liable."
Under the federal and California endangered species acts, it’s illegal for anyone to kill a condor without first securing a permit to do so. Given that the government has not issued such an “incidental take” permit and has no intention of doing so, if a turbine kills a condor, the operator could be charged criminally. Environmentalists could also ask a judge to shut down a wind farm where a condor died.
"There is no evidence that DDT harmed eagles in any way, but we know windmills actually do harm the eagles -- and environmentalists are all bent out of shape about endangered species status of eagles," says Milloy. "Well, those big Cuisinarts in the sky -- they seem to be whacking a lot of eagles."
Wind power is the fastest growing component in the state's green energy portfolio, but wildlife advocates say the marriage has an unintended consequence: dead birds, including protected species of eagles, hawks and owls. "The cumulative impacts are huge," said Shawn Smallwood, one of the few recognized experts studying the impact of wind farms on migratory birds.
Wind developer Oak Creek Energy of Oakland last month pulled the plug on a five-year effort to build a wind farm in the Castle Mountain area that Feinstein wants to add to the Mojave Preserve. "The primary reason was that we found this area was heavily desired by powerful interests," executive vice president Edward Duggan said in an e-mail.
The lawsuit, filed December 30 in California's Supreme Court by the Sierra Club, alleges that state regulators improperly approved the plant, known as the Calico Solar Project. The suit, obtained by Reuters, charges that regulators failed to fully mitigate the project's impact on rare plant and animal species, and asks the court to void approval and permits for the plant.
BLM, which must grant a right-of-way approval in order for the project to be built on 280 acres of federal land, considered a number of alternatives to the project before determining that reducing the number of turbines from 138 to 76 would save more golden eagles. ...But Iberdrola Renewables is "not even entertaining".
A wind farm proposed for the eastern reaches of San Diego County would result in bird deaths - including those of the golden eagle - damaged vistas and Indian sites and construction-related noise and air pollution, a draft environmental report has found. The best way to reduce the impact would be to shrink the Tule Wind farm to 72 turbines from the 134 proposed, and to re-route some of the related transmission lines, according to the study.
Two ridgetop windmill research towers will rise north of Dillon Beach following a green light from county supervisors. The county board voted 4-0 to reject an recommendation from the Planning Commission that more study be conducted to determine whether the facilities could trigger a bird slaughter.
The controversy surrounding wind farms in America has been brewing for over 25 years. The debate centers around the use of the deadly propeller style wind turbines and the large death toll to what are supposedly protected species. One of these species, the federally protected golden eagle, has been at the forefront of this debate from the beginning. This is for good reason, because at Altamont Pass California, 50-75 golden eagles have been killed each year in the blades of the prop wind turbine.
Protecting habitat of endangered or threatened species, such as the desert tortoise, is a major obstacle for energy companies, which could lose out on federal stimulus money if their projects aren't ready to go before the end of the year. Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama have made renewable energy development a priority, citing climate change, national security and new jobs.
Every day at wind farms across America threatened or endangered species are killed from collisions with blades of the prop wind turbine. This is considered legal because the offending wind farms either hold the "incidental take permit" or were not required to have one because they did not fully disclose environmental impacts of their activities.
The endangered desert tortoise and Mojave ground squirrel are frequent headliners in the local environmental debate whenever developers seek a piece of the High Desert. Now scientists are saying another population that's not quite so lovable also needs an advocate.
Golden Gate Audubon and four other local Audubon chapters sent a letter Jan. 28 to Alameda County demanding that the county ensure that wind turbines operating in the Altamont Pass remain shut down until the county implements a management plan that significantly reduces avian mortality resulting from wind turbine operations in the Altamont. "Wind turbine operations in the Altamont Pass kill as many as 9,600 birds each year, including many species that are fully protected by state and federal laws," said Mike Lynes, Conservation Director for Golden Gate Audubon.
In a case that tested the bounds of wind power's expansion, the California Coastal Commission last week denied a bid by a Santa Cruz County couple to install a wind turbine in a residential neighborhood. Voting 8 to 3 against the proposal, commissioners expressed concern that energy won from a 35-foot-high windmill might not be worth the visual jolt the project would have on the quaint Pleasure Point area as well as harm the spinning blades could have on seabirds.