Saturday, December 07, 2013

Interior Department Gives Wind Farms 30-Year Exemption From Bird Kills

Today, the U.S. Interior Department issued a rule that would grant 30-year permits allowing wind farms and other projects to accidentally kill federally protected eagles, provided they meet certain criteria.

Large birds can be killed when they are struck by the spinning blades of wind turbines that have become a common sight around the nation in recent years.  The new rule highlights a tension lingering between two key goals of the environmental movement: developing renewable energy sources and protecting wildlife.

The new rule allows the department to issue permits to wind farms or other projects that harm or kill eagles otherwise protected under the decades old Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. To receive the permit, companies must show that they are taking measures to try to preserve eagles, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The new rule isn't a free pass. To get a permit wind developers have to persuade the government they are going to conduct an extensive regime or offset [bird harm] by preserving habitat.

Renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric dams, solar arrays and other clean-energy projects often create collateral damage in nearby ecosystems.

Some environmental groups strongly protested the changes as harmful to the environment, believing the new rule will lead to more dead eagles. (WSJ, 12/6/2013)

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