Irresponsible Senate Finance Committee Action on Wind Energy Tax Break

Following on the heels of yesterday’s post, Glenn Schleede offers additional commentary regarding the “irresponsible” EXPIRE Act:

Commentary begins:

April 11, 2013

Irresponsible Senate Finance Committee Action on Wind Energy Tax Break

Once again, the Senate Committee that manages to make life miserable for millions of tax-paying Americans with its manipulation of the US Tax Code, is acting to aid its friends, punish ordinary taxpayers, and load another $85 billion in debt on our children and grandchildren.

On April 3, 2014, by “voice” (no fingerprints) vote, the Senate Finance Committee reported out an $85 billion tax break ”extender” bill — which the Committee calls the “EXPIRE Act.” [1] The bill includes billions in unwarranted tax breaks for special interests, including the wind industry.

As long as Congress fails to pass a balanced budget, every dollar provided to special interests in this $85 billion “Extender” bill is a direct addition to the national debt that will be dumped on our children and grandchildren. Further, each dollar that Congress adds to the national debt will be DOUBLED in about 15 years due to interest that will accrue on that debt.

An egregious example of an unwarranted special interest tax break in the Finance Committee’s bill is Senator Grassley’s wind and other renewable energy “Production Tax Credit” (PTC) and “Investment Tax Credit” (ITC). Grassley insisted on extending this 20-year old “temporary” tax break for another 2 years at a cost, according to the Joint Tax Committee, of more than $13 billion over the next 10 years (and more thereafter).

When Senator Toomey attempted to eliminate unwarranted energy tax breaks from the bill, Republican Senators Grassley, Cornyn, Thune, Crapo, & Portman[2] joined Finance Committee Democrats in voting to keep the massive energy tax breaks in the bill!

The votes for Grassley’s $13+ billion wind PTC and ITC extension to benefit “wind farm” owners would result in an equal addition to future generations’ debt burden! Under Grassley’s measure, owners of “wind farms” would be able to continue reducing their corporate income tax liability by $0.023 (adjusted upward for inflation) for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity produced by their wind turbines during the next 10 years.

The wind PTC was initially passed in 1992 as a temporary incentive to help a then fledgling industry – with the expectation that wind energy would be environmentally benign and would become commercially viable. However, after nearly 40 years of subsidies for wind energy R&D and 20 years of lucrative wind energy tax breaks — together totaling over $100 billion:

  • Electricity from wind remains high in true cost and low in real value[3] – with the wind industry providing no evidence that electricity from wind will ever become commercially viable (i.e., without large tax breaks and subsidies).
  • Producing electricity from wind has proven to have numerous adverse environmental, economic, electric system reliability, scenic, and property value impacts not originally foreseen and still not admitted by wind industry advocates; and

Eight Republicans[4] (some claiming to be “conservatives”) and 110 Democrats in the US House of Representatives have signed a letter to House leaders urging extension of the wind PTC. The tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee hasn’t taken up the wind PTC, but one of the wind industry’s Washington lobbyists has bragged that the wind industry still has “very strong support from Democrats in the House and strong support from some, but not all, of the Republicans.”[5]

Last December, Senator Grassley told constituents in Iowa that the costly wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) would be extended soon. “…Congress will come back after the New Year and approve four dozen or more tax credits.” “There are a lot of economic interests”…represented in the tax credits. Those interest groups collectively “put a lot of pressure on Congress to re-institute the credits’[6]

In addition to wind industry lobbyists, Grassley undoubtedly was referring to such Washington establishment organizations as the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and Business Roundtable. Organizations such as these once championed private enterprise but now seem to be heavily influenced by member companies that:

  • Have concluded that there is less risk and more profit in “mining” Washington for tax breaks and subsidies than in pursing truly innovative and productive activities in private, competitive markets.
  • Have no problem in accepting special interest tax breaks that load debt on future generations.

The April 3rd action by the Senate Finance Committee certainly helps explain why a recent Gallup Survey shows that Congress currently has a 13% favorability rating. If the nation’s “Millennials” understand how the Congress is adding to the debt that they and their children will bear, they may assign an even lower rating!

Glenn R. Schleede
Virginia

[1] Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.
[2] See “Results of [Senate Finance Committee] Executive Session.040314” download 4/9/14 from: http://www.finance.senate.gov/legislation/details/?id=67094f10-5056-a032-52ff-257830e0a938
[3] Electricity is produced by wind turbines only when wind speeds are in the right range (starting around 6 MPH, reaching rated capacity around 32 MPH, and cutting out around 55 MPH). Electricity from wind turbines is, therefore, low in value because it is intermittent, volatile, unreliable, and most likely to be produced at night in colder months, not on hot weekday afternoons when most needed. Reliable generating using conventional energy sources must always be available to maintain stable electric grids and a reliable electricity supply.
[4] King (IA), Lucas (OK), Runyan (NJ), Fitzpatrick (PA), Gibson (NY), Latham (IA), Noem (SD). Cole (OK).
[5] http://www.snl.com/Interactivex/article.aspx?CdId=A-27696241-11565 (downloaded April 11, 2014)
[6] The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA), December 11, 2013.

Commentary ends!

Posted in Glenn Schleede, Politicians and Wind Energy, Wind Power subsidies, Wind tax rebates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wind PTC supported by “irresponsible Republican Senators”

Glenn and Sandra Schleede are fed up with their “irresponsible representatives” in Washington and have chosen to let them know.  We thank them for allowing us to share the open letter they sent to Republican leadership.

Letter begins:

April 10, 2013

Memorandum for:

  • Chairmen, National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • National Republic Congressional Committee
  • Republican National Committee

SUBJECT:  Irresponsible Republican Senators

During the last few weeks, we have received 17 requests for contributions from you or your organizations.  We will not contribute to your organizations or to any Republican member who continues to ignore the real interests of ordinary citizens and taxpayers and loads debt on our children and grandchildren.

Recent example:  On April 3, 2014, 5 Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee voted with Committee Democrats to preserve unwarranted special interest tax breaks in the latest “Extender” bill, which bill the Committee calls the “EXPIRE Act.”[1]

As long as Congress fails to pass a balanced budget, every dollar provided to special interests in this $85 billion “Extender” bill is a direct addition to the national debt that will be dumped on our children and grandchildren.  Note also that each dollar that Congress adds to the national debt will be DOUBLED in 15 years or less due to the interest that is accruing on that debt.

An egregious example of an unwarranted special interest tax break in the Committee’s bill is Senator Grassley’s wind and other renewable energy “Production Tax Credit” (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC).  Grassley insisted on extending this 20-year old “temporary” tax break for another 2 years at a cost, according to the Joint Tax Committee, of more than $13 billion over the next 10 years (and more thereafter).

When Senator Toomey attempted to eliminate unwarranted energy tax breaks from the bill, Senator Grassley and at least 4 other Republicans (Cornyn, Thune, Crapo, & Portman)[2] joined with Finance Committee Democrats to keep the tax breaks in the bill!

How can any of us take Republicans seriously when members of the Senate and House continue to vote to protect unwarranted special interest tax while they vote to dump more debt on future generations?  Their votes for the wind PTC are equal to a direct transfer from future generations’ debt burden to the pockets of today’s “wind farm” owners!

Under Grassley’s measure, owners of “wind farms” would be able to continue reducing their income tax liability by $0.023 (adjusted upward for inflation) for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by their wind turbines during the next 10 years.

The wind PTC was initially passed in 1992 as a temporary incentive to help a then fledgling industry – with the expectation that wind energy would be environmentally benign and would become commercially viable.  However, after 40 years of subsidies for wind energy R&D and 20 years of lucrative wind energy tax breaks for “wind farm” owners, together totaling over $100 billion:

  • Electricity from wind remains high in true cost and low in real value – with the wind industry providing no evidence that electricity from wind will ever become commercially viable (i.e., without large tax breaks and subsidies).
  • Producing electricity from wind has proven to have numerous adverse environmental, economic, electric system reliability, scenic, and property value impacts not originally foreseen and still not admitted by wind industry advocates.

The actions by Senator Grassley, the other four Republican Senators, and eight members of the House[3] (some claiming to be “conservatives”) who are urging extension of the wind PTC help illustrate why so many ordinary Americans are so fed up with long-standing members of Congress.

Of course, we have no way of matching the campaign contributions that members get from special interests whose tax breaks they are preserving — including organizations represented by hundreds of associations, NGOs, law firms, and their lobbyists.

We also recognize that members are eager to please contributors from such Washington establishment organizations as such as the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and Business Roundtable – organizations that once championed private enterprise but now speak for companies that:

  • Have concluded that there is less risk and more profit in “mining” Washington for tax breaks and subsidies than in pursing truly innovative and productive activities in private, competitive markets.
  • Have no problem in accepting special interest tax breaks that load debt on future generations.

However, we will limit the contributions we can afford to those candidates who will vote to stop special interest tax breaks such as those promoted and protected by Senator Grassley and those of like performance who are so willing to dump debt on our children and grandchildren.

Glenn R. Schleede and Sandra K. Schleede, Virginia

CC:   Senate Minority Leader McConnell and Senator Cornyn
House Speaker Boehner and House Majority Leader Cantor

[1] Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.
[2] See “Results of [Senate Finance Committee] Executive Session.040314” download 4/9/14 from: http://www.finance.senate.gov/legislation/details/?id=67094f10-5056-a032-52ff-257830e0a938
[3] King (IA), Lucas (OK), Runyan (NJ), Fitzpatrick (PA), Gibson (NY), Latham (IA), Noem (SD). Cole (OK).

Letter ends.

Oh … by the way … we couldn’t agree more:

http://alleghenytreasures.com/2014/04/02/ptc-industrial-winds-viagra/

and

http://alleghenytreasures.com/2014/04/04/expire-its-just-an-act/

Allegheny Treasures Note: “Mr. Schleede is the author of many papers and reports on energy matters. He is now retired but continues to analyze and write about federal and state energy policies, particularly those affecting wind energy.”

“Until retiring, Schleede maintained a consulting practice, Energy Market and Policy Analysis, Inc. (EMPA) Prior to forming EMPA, Schleede was Vice President of New England Electric System (NEES), Westborough, MA, and President of its fuels subsidiary, New England Energy Incorporated. Previously, Schleede was Executive Associate Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (1981), Senior VP of the National Coal Association in Washington (1977) and Associate Director (Energy and Science) of the White House Domestic Council (1973). He also held career service positions in the U.S. OMB and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.”

“He has a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MA from the University of Minnesota. He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.“

 

Posted in Glenn Schleede, Politicians and Wind Energy, Wind Power subsidies, Wind tax rebates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

EXPIRE … it’s just an act!

The wind industry consumes nearly 80 percent of all federal subsidy dollars for renewable energy and 55 percent of all federal energy subsidies, according to David Brown, senior vice president for government affairs for Exelon, a nuclear power company. Because wind farms almost always are located far from where the energy will be used, power companies must construct huge transmission lines to take in this additional capacity they do not need. And since wind performs worst when it’s needed most, those traditional power companies it does so much to undermine must stand ready to make up for the needs it cannot meet.” – Conn Carroll

But, who cares!  Certainly not the majority of members of the Senate Finance Committee who decided to recommend that taxpayers once again fill the tin cup of the for-profit industrial wind business.

Yep!  Confirming once again that it is beyond the ability of Congress to construct a comprehensive, fair and effective tax law, the Committee instead issued a patch-work quilt of fixes known as the EXPIRE Act.  Sadly, EXPIRE has nothing to do with term limits for elected officials.  EXPIRE is actually short for “Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency Act” or, as the Senate Finance Committee web site further clarifies, “an original bill entitled “The Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2014” (The Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2014 includes both technical corrections and deadwood provisions, which are described separately in the attachments); and to fill vacancies on subcommittees, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional Oversight Group, and the Congressional Trade Advisors on Trade Policy and Negotiations.”  And no … unfortunately … the “deadwood provisions” mentioned have nothing to do with term limits for elected officials either.

Now might be a good time to remind ourselves that, in spite of the valiant efforts of the wind industry lobby to nominate wind companies to energy sainthood, wind companies are in it for the buck.  You might recall comments made a couple of years ago by Gabriel Alonzo, then chief executive of Horizon Wind, who told his employees that their goal isn’t to stage a renewable-energy revolution, “This is all about making money!

Now don’t get me wrong … I certainly don’t mind a leader suggesting that profit is the reason for his company’s existence.  I also don’t mind that, unless I’m mistaken, this is the same Gabriel Alonzo currently listed by the American Wind Energy Association as Board Chair.  After all, making profit is why folks go into business and you certainly can’t fault AWEA for having him guide the organization.  AWEA’s job is to insure the field is set for their members to make a hefty profit.  And, after all, isn’t profit the ultimate reason they lobby congress so hard for legislation such as the EXPIRE Act?  They are, after all, the American Wind Energy Association, “the premier organization representing the interests of America’s wind energy industry.”

But what concerns and confuses me is how we get our arms around exactly how much of the US Taxpayer’s investment in these companies actually gets back to US Taxpayers.

For example, let’s go back to Mr. Alonzo.  Beyond his role heading the Board of the wind industry lobby, he is also listed as Chief Executive Officer of EDP Renewables North America LLC (EDPR NA).  If I read it right, the EDP NA which Mr. Alonzo leads is the North American division of EDP Renewables (Euronext: EDPR), a self-described global renewable energy company.  Global EDP Renewables then, is a component of Energias de Portugal, S.A. (“EDP”), which describes itself as a vertically-integrated utility company, headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal, and the majority shareholder of EDP Renewables of which the North American group is a part.  Is this making sense?

Anyway, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with all this.  And frankly, that’s not my point.

Rather, I use this example to illustrate how assessing the true impact of the EXPIRE Act, a seemingly simple “mom and apple pie” patch-work quilt of fixes to a cumbersome tax code, is far more complicated than we Taxpayers are led to believe.  Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the very politicians who are thrilled to hand Taxpayer money to these companies don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions.  But then, maybe we haven’t really challenged them to do so, have we!

We too often let them off the hook, falling for their blubber about jobs and green and mom and apple pie.  And we’re obviously satisfied with that nonsense … after all, we do keep sending them back!

But, if you are as confused as I am, maybe you could contact your Congress and Senate Representatives, who are expected to vote on this legislation, to help you understand.  Ask them specifically what return you can expect to see for your hard-earned tax dollar investment in these for-profit businesses.

I guarantee Mr. Alonzo is expected to account for every dollar which moves in and out of his company.  If not, he’ll be replaced.  Why then should we not ask the politicians so eager to hand out your hard-earned cash to do the same?

Oh … if your Representatives tell you that it’s all too complicated and all they can promise is “apple pie” … tell them you want your damned money back!

Posted in Energy Subsidies, Industrial wind lobby, Wind Energy Legislation, Wind Power subsidies | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

PTC – industrial wind’s viagra

Well, folks … typical of DC … there’s a last minute rush to piece together a means to spend more of your cash.  Lacking any ability to properly care for your money, politicians who fill the seats of the critical Senate Finance Committee again find themselves replacing order with chaos in their attempt to extend tax incentives to energy producers.

The committee did release a proposal yesterday and surprisingly, in spite of the Democratic Chairman and his Republican counterpart’s support, they didn’t include the 20+ year old Production Tax Credit (PTC), a subsidy which has long benefited energy’s “tin cup” stepchild – industrial wind.

One might take this as a sign that logic has taken over Congress but, do not fear, the for-profit wind industry lobby is heading to the Capitol to remind our legislators how much they contributed to the last campaign their product needs taxpayer support.  And after all, lobbyists and Congress have one thing in common, they both believe your money is their money.

This story is moving quickly and already Senator Grassley, a staunch fiscal conservative and, simultaneously, seeker of all things subsidy for his constituents, is preparing an amendment to attach to the proposal this Thursday which, if successful, will transfer even more dollars from your pocket to the pockets of the industrial wind profiteers.

Anyway, if you already know the issues and want to immediately contact your Senator to tell them “no more hand-outs for industrial wind,” here’s the Senate contact list link -  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

If you want to know a bit more, here is my quick take.  But I warn you … this story is changing rapidly so I recommend you hook up to your favorite news source and follow along.

An article in the Washington Examiner sent to me by my friends at SOAR – Save Our Allegheny Ridges, noted that yesterday’s committee proposal was bipartisan in its exclusion of the industrial wind subsidy.  The article also noted that there is bipartisan support for renewal of the PTC for wind by legislators from “breezier states in the West and Midwest” who believe a “a long-term congressional commitment” is necessary to keep this industry alive.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the PTC, which was intended to be a temporary start-up assist but then blossomed into a twenty plus year Taxpayer-funded life-support system for the for-profit wind industry, does not, by congressional standards, qualify as “long term.”  They really don’t understand the concept of “term limits,” do they!

Orrin Hatch of Utah took the honors for the most ridiculous quote in support of wind noting that, “Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability.”  The Senator perhaps fails to understand that, when it comes to electricity generation to meet a demand based market, it is the lack of “certainty and predictability” which finally dooms industrial wind.

We at Allegheny Treasures think you should contact your Senator and voice your opinion.  Whether you support the Production Tax Credit or not, you should make your opinion known.

If you’re in favor of extending a subsidy to a for-profit business which hawks a supply driven product in a demand driven market then industrial wind is for you.  If you favor sending your hard earned tax dollars to a for-profit business which has already cost US Taxpayers billions over the past 20 years and, thanks to last years extension, now obligates Taxpayers – YOU – to pay an additional $12 billion ($12,000,000,000.00) over the next 10 years, you should let your Senator know how happy you are.

As for me, enough is enough!  Money is tight and I want to see tax dollars invested in truly innovative solutions which lead us to modern and effective demand-driven electricity generators which will provide for our future energy needs and simultaneously protect our environment.

Here’s the note I sent to my Senator Rockefeller’s legislative aide on the issue:

Sir,

I am opposed to inclusion of the Production Tax Credit for Industrial Wind in any legislation.

It is well past time for this industry to succeed or fail on its own merit, having received taxpayer funding for more than twenty years.

Please insure the Senator does not allow the PCT to be included in any legislation out of committee.

Short and to the point.  Took me less than a minute.

You might consider doing the same.  After all … IT’S YOUR MONEY!

Thankfully, I didn’t have to send a note to my other Senator, Joe Manchin.  Manchin, along with Lamar Alexander and several others, recently sent a letter to the Senate Finance committee stating that we should end the taxpayer funded Production Tax Credit for industrial wind.

Again, here’s the address list link for Senators:  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Oh, yeah … about the title of this post.  I decided not to go that way after all, but I suspect I really don’t have to explain … do I?

Posted in Industrial Wind Taxes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“the “bizarro world” of industrial wind energy policy”

Thanks to Frank O’Hara of West Virginia’s Allegheny Front Alliance (AFA) for pointing us to this excellent post at MasterResource – Testimony Against Industrial Wind Power (Kevon Martis before the Ohio Senate and House Public Utilities Committees)

Please visit MasterResource – a free-market energy blog – for the full text of Mr. Martis’ testimony as well as many of the excellent and informative discussions related to the past, present and future of energy.

For your convenience, we provide this video of Mr. Martis’ testimony:

Posted in Allegheny Front Alliance, industrial wind failure | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lifestyle Lost

Thanks to Dave Umling for providing this remarkable Yankee Magazine article – “Eminent Domain in Ascutney, Vermont | I Will Not Leave

Howard Mansfield tells the story of Romaine Tenney, a bachelor farmer.   According to Mr. Mansfield’s compelling story, Tenney “milked 25 cows by hand on his farm in Ascutney, Vermont. He had no electricity in his house, used no gas-powered machinery. He cut his firewood with an axe and a saw; cut his hay with workhorses. He didn’t own a tractor or drive a car. When he went to the nearby big town of Claremont, across the river in New Hampshire, he’d walk the six miles–except that he probably never walked all the way. People always picked him up. Everyone knew Romaine. With his long beard, felt hat, and overalls, he was a familiar sight. Romaine enjoyed visiting on these rides, and all his neighbors liked him. His farm was right on the major road between Ascutney and Claremont; the road hugged his cow barn, and neighbors would often stop to chat. He rose late and worked late into the night. “You could drive by at midnight and there he would be in his barn, fixing some harnesses or just puttering about,” said Deputy Sheriff Robert Gale. It was as if Romaine held the office of Bachelor Farmer in town.”

Mr. Umling, who provided us with the link, has a very personal interest in this story and, it’s worth noting, a story of his own about his plan to get back to such a life.  We interviewed Mr. Umling regarding his book in a January 2012 post – Lifestyle Lost – A Conversation with Dave Umling

Mr. Umling’s “Lifestyle Lost” is available in a variety of format’s at Amazon.com.

Posted in Allegheny Mountains, Alternative Energy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another speed bump for Edison Mission bankruptcy plan

First the IRS … and now the Securities and Exchange Commission says Edison Mission’s plan “to emerge from bankruptcy shouldn’t be approved because its corporate shell could be used in violation of federal law …”

Full story at Bloomberg – “Edison Mission Bankruptcy Reorganization Opposed by SEC

In other EME news:  “Debt woes could put big Illinois wind farm in turbine maker’s lap

Posted in Edison Mission Group | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

IRS urges court to reject Edison Mission bankruptcy plan

“The Internal Revenue Service urged an Illinois bankruptcy judge Wednesday to deny Edison Mission Energy’s Chapter 11 plan, saying it contained numerous provisions that infringed on the agency’s $1.3 billion tax claim against the estate”  Full article behind a pay-wall.

Perhaps even more tax money in jeopardy?  Unbelievable!

Posted in Edison Mission Group, Industrial Wind Taxes | Tagged , | 1 Comment

“California’s drought disaster is real”

Wayne Lusvardi’s article at CalWatchDog.com titled “Drought could cascade through state infrastructure” presents excellent commentary on the power generation side of the current drought.

Well worth the read!

Related post:  Pump storage … the industrial wind side show’s latest prop.

Posted in Hydroelectricity, Renewable energy debate | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Allegheny Highlands Alliance comments on new Eagle “take” permits.

Golden Eagle 2(Photo Courtesy of Larry Thomas – Pendelton County, WV)

Environmental groups and the Senate GOP’s top environmental lawmaker are irate over a revised Interior Department  rule, set to take effect in January, 2014.  The modification will allow the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to grant much longer programmatic incidental “take” permits to industrial wind energy facilities, transmission projects and other long-term energy operations to avoid current penalties, should they accidentally kill or injure bald and golden eagles.  The revised period for such industry protection will be thirty years, six times longer than the five-year term under current law.

Allegheny Treasures is pleased to offer the following discussion regarding this important topic with Mr. Larry Thomas, President of the Allegheny Highlands Alliance (AHA), which is a non-profit alliance of organizations and individuals  representing several states.  AHA is committed to protecting the mountain resources of the Allegheny Highlands.

AT Morgan:  Welcome Mr. Thomas.

Mr. Thomas:  Glad to be with you.

AT Morgan:  AHA, the organization you represent, has taken a strong position on industrial wind in the Alleghenies, specifically the high ridgelines traversed by these magnificent animals.  Yet the FWS has taken the position that it is necessary in order to further facilitate installation of industrial wind turbines at locations where the turbines present a clear risk to eagle populations.  What is your view of the FWS position.

Mr. Thomas:  We do not believe that anyone knows how many Bald and Golden Eagles there are, which is the reason 30 year take permits are a bad idea. There are no national studies confirming their numbers. Bald Eagles appear to be increasing in number, but many states stopped tracking their population around the year 2000. Golden Eagles have been estimated at 21,000 to 35,000 in western states in the lower 48 and 1,000 to 2,500 east of the Mississippi. Many experts believe their population is declining in the western U.S. and the eastern U.S. population is very small and vulnerable.

Unfortunately, even this six fold extension of authorized kills did not satisfy the wind industry.  In a statement published Friday, December 6, immediately following the FWS announcement; the wind industry stated that they still are not satisfied.  While praising the extension of “take” permits under the Bald and Golden Eagle Act from five years to a maximum of 30 years, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said that “additional concerns” about the permit rule’s impact on the wind industry would require more negotiation between wind companies, FWS and AWEA’s “partners in the conservation community.”

“[T]his rule must only be a first step in creating a rational and effective approach to eagle permitting,” AWEA said, “and we look forward to working with FWS, the Department of Interior and our partners in the conservation community to address additional permit program concerns through future revisions to the Permit Rule.”

AT Morgan:  I included in a recent post comments from environmental groups who, to varying degrees, opposed the FWS ruling.  Are there any commentaries which stood out to you?

Mr. ThomasSave the Eagles International issued a biodiversity warning concerning the United States stating “contrary to the dubious studies financed and controlled by vested interests, the population of golden eagles in the Western States is on the decline. Wind farms are the main cause. The issuing of licenses to kill will accelerate the decline towards extinction.” Further, “considering that the Eastern and Central States are not acting any better, it is biodiversity in the whole of the contiguous 48 states which is in peril, including other species such as the Whooping Crane. No amount of bad science financed by the wind industry and government agencies has been able to convince honest conservationists that wind farms don’t harm bird and bat populations.”

Mark Duchamp, Save the Eagles International president, wrote the following letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, which we provide for your convenience.

Letter begins:

“Dear Interior Secretary Salley Jewell,

As president of Save the Eagles International, I consider it my duty to make you aware of certain realities that your advisors won’t tell you about.

Allowing wind farms to legally kill eagles will result in the extinction of the Golden Eagle in the United States (1). It will cause numerous deaths in the Bald Eagle population.

Many more birds of prey will be slaughtered, causing some species to disappear from the contiguous United States. It turns out that wind turbines ATTRACT raptors (2). This is due to various reasons (3). No amount of mitigation will stop them from being decimated by the deadly blades: thirty years of efforts to solve the problem have failed. Compensation measures won’t help either, as young raptors born anywhere will eventually come in contact with the ubiquitous machines.

Wind turbines also attract insects, which in turn attract bats, swallows and swifts to their death (4). Bats are slow reproducers, and are already in decline due to White Nose Syndrome. Their disappearance would cause immense damage to agriculture.

For all of the above, I respectfully warn you that President Obama’s windfarm policy will cause a biodiversity catastrophe in the United States.

Sincerely,

Mark Duchamp

Footnotes:

  1. http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/releases/stei-opposes-licences-to-kill-eagles.html
  2. http://savetheeagles.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/raptors-attracted-to-windfarms-2/
  3. http://www.masterresource.org/2013/09/windfarm-mortality-disinformation/#more-27682
  4. http://wcfn.org/2013/07/24/biodiversity-alert/

Letter ends!

As you mentioned before, many other environmental organizations have now stated their concerns with this revised rule and some have stated that they will be taking action. To highlight a few:

American Bird Conservancy

Defenders of Wildlife

National Audubon

National Wildlife Federation

National Resources Defense Council

The Protect Our Communities Foundation

Sierra Club

The National Audubon Society took a particularly strong stand, stating: “Tell Interior Secretary Jewell the issuing of a 30-year incidental take permit for wind farms is unconscionable, and must be reversed.

AT Morgan:  What is the stated position of the Allegheny Highlands Alliance?

Mr. ThomasThe many organizations which form AHA are deeply concerned with this revised rule and documented attempts to circumvent existing Federal and state laws through governmental mandates, failures to enforce those laws that protect…and blatant disregard of those laws by the industrial wind energy industry.

As a result of our research AHA has concluded that compliance with major Federal and State laws established for the protection of our “Commons” is being circumvented, blatantly ignored and consciously broken by this industry and the federal and state agencies charged with enforcement thereof are ignoring their responsibilities. The industrial wind energy project developers and operators are relying on lack of staff and funding at federal and state agencies to provide adequate monitoring of their projects.

AT Morgan:  Perhaps you could provide examples of AHA’s concerns.

Mr. Thomas:  We are concerned regarding compliance to existing regulations.  For example:

In 1973 Congress passed the Endangered Species Act to “provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend may be conserved, and to provide a program for the conservation of these species.”

The National Environmental Protection Act which was the first major environmental law enacted in the United States and is often called the “Magna Carta” of environmental laws.

The Bald Eagle Protection Act is extremely comprehensive, prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, or offer to sell, purchase, or barter, export or import of the bald eagle at any time or in any manner. In 1962, Congress amended the Bald Eagle Protection Act to cover golden eagles, a move that was partially an attempt to strengthen protection of bald eagles, since the latter were often killed by people mistaking them for golden eagles. The golden eagle, however, is accorded somewhat lighter protection under the Act than the bald eagle.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act implements the United States’ commitment to four bilateral treaties, or conventions, for the protection of a shared migratory bird resource. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects over 800 species of birds that occur in the United States.

Federal and state decision makers must also consider the provisions and requirements of the National Forest Management Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Historic Preservation Act to assess the impact of industrial wind energy projects.

Additionally, numerous government agencies have spent enormous amounts of time and money developing ways to protect, preserve, or rehabilitate watershed areas on a regional scale and must be taken into consideration by the Federal and state decision makers in any consideration to allow the siting of industrial wind energy projects in “The Commons”. We list these projects to protect our environment on our website.

AT Morgan:  Perhaps, for the benefit of our readers, you could summarize the goals of the Allegheny Highlands Alliance.

Mr. Thomas:  First, it is important to note that the Allegheny Highlands Alliance (AHA) is a non-profit organization … a consortium of citizen/environment organizations with membership in five states along the Allegheny Front. Our organization is in the process of discovering the facts about industrial wind, its potential to reduce green house gases, its economics and the impact of industrial wind energy project installations on the ecology and human health.

Perhaps our goal is best explained by our Mission Statement – PROTECTING OUR MOUNTAINS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

The purposes of AHA include:

  • To advance public knowledge and understanding of the cultural, biological, environmental diversity, uniqueness, and sensitivity of the major ridgelines that comprise the Allegheny Highlands;
  • To preserve and protect areas of particular scenic, geologic, biologic, historic, wilderness, and/or recreational importance in the Allegheny Highlands;
  • To aid in the establishment of responsible policies to protect scientific, educational or aesthetic values;
  • To conduct regional and resource studies as a basis for the wise use of the various resources of the Allegheny Highlands; to develop programs in energy conservation and wise production; and to serve local communities, the region, the people of the Allegheny Highlands as an agency for popular enlightenment, for cultural improvement, and for scientific advancement;
  • To advocate governmental policies for the conservation and wise management of energy and natural resources of the Allegheny Highlands.

AT Morgan:  Thank you, Mr. Thomas

Mr. Thomas:  You’re welcome!

AT Note: Should individuals or groups wish additional information, Mr. Thomas can be reached via email at larryvthomas@aol.com.

Bald Eagle 2(Photo Courtesy of Luci Ranes – Pendelton County, WV)

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