Under pressure from the wind-power industry, the Obama administration said Friday it will allow companies to kill or injure eagles without the fear of prosecution for up to three decades. (For your convenience, I’ve provided the complete FWS ruling as well as the official FWS Q&A at the end of this post.) (UPDATE FOLLOWS FWS EMBEDS)
It is tempting to ramble on about industrial wind’s failings, most of which have been discussed here in earlier posts, but I’d like to focus on the initial responses of leading environmental groups to the US Fish and Wildlife’s cowardly decision to squander any remaining credibility and allow marginally performing for-profit companies to slaughter Bald and Golden Eagles at their wind plants for a full 30 years.
Oh, by the way … I’ve chosen to rate the responses offered by these folks because, well … because I can.
1 – Kelly Fuller, who formerly headed up the wind campaign at the The federal government didn’t study the impacts of this rule change even though the (law) requires it. “Instead, the feds have decided to break the law and use eagles as lab rats.”: “
Rating: Excellent! Clear, to the point, forceful! (That’s precisely why we like her!!!)
2 – Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy: “Remarkably, this approach relies exclusively on the for-profit wind industry to self-report bird fatalities, even when such information may prove detrimental to the industry’s bottom line. While some companies may play by the rules, others may not, making this system highly vulnerable to deception. I don’t see how such a system will work to protect eagles.
Eagles are being asked to survive a brutal ‘one-two’ punch. On top of the impacts from the duration of take permits being extended six-fold, the birds will soon face an additional serious threat—a 12-fold increase in wind energy, if federal 2030 targets are achieved. So it is entirely conceivable, and probably even quite likely, that mortality impacts to eagles will get far worse.”
Rating: Very Good! Full press release worth a read for additional issues raised by public-interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal and Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator for American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign.
3 – Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check. It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the Bald Eagle. Audubon will continue to look for reasonable, thoughtful partners to wean America off fossil fuels because that should be everyone’s highest priority. We have no choice but to challenge this decision, and all options are on the table.”President and CEO David Yarnold: “
Rating: Very Good! It would be helpful if the National Audubon could exercise a little control of its Massachusetts offspring which, as Eric Bibler noted, “UNLIKE A HOST OF OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS LED BY THE AMERICAN BIRD CONSERVANCY — DID NOT OPPOSE THIS LEGISLATION.”
4 – After preliminary review, this move from the Fish and Wildlife service looks like it could cause serious harm to eagle populations. Wind projects can and should be developed and operated with the lowest possible impacts to eagles. Clean energy projects should be sited and developed in a way that helps to protect healthy and sustainable plant and animal populations. We should be able to choose safe clean energy for our communities while still protecting the places and wildlife that we love.”Senior Campaign Representative Sarah Friedman: “
Rating: Weak! Giving new meaning to fog, this wimpy statement is way too full of woulds, shoulds and coulds for my taste. To me, the mush filled statement only confirms Jon Boone’s earlier suggestion that the Sierra Club’s “Support for Industrial Wind Technology Subverts Its History, Betrays Its Mission, and Erodes Commitment to the Scientific Method“
One thing that seems to be missing in this discussion is the fact that we have international treaties we are obligated to honor. I find this particularly interesting, since the USFWS has a full section of their web site dedicated to that fact – A Guide to the Laws and Treaties of the United States for Protecting Migratory Birds. Makes you wonder how we can expect other governments to take us seriously, doesn’t it?
In previous writings, I’ve stated that “I cannot abide the suggestion that we must sacrifice our environment in order to save it. This is an absurd argument enabling this energy imposter’s invasion of delicate habitat with little return. Sacrifice is, after all, a forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of something one considered to have a greater value or claim. Environmentalists must consider the possibility that industrial wind, by its failure to perform to stated goals, does not then qualify for this sacred consideration.”
This FWS ruling is simply sour fruit from the tree some environmental organizations, along with wind profiteers, helped to plant.
US Fish and Wildlife Service documents:
Kelly Fuller provided the following:
Below are press statements from conservation groups in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rule change allowing 30-year eagle take permits. Right now, the final rule is on the Public Inspection desk, available at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2013-29088.pdf. It will be published in the Federal Register on Monday.
American Bird Conservancy: http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/131206.html
Defenders of Wildlife: http://www.defenders.org/press-release/fish-and-wildlife-service-tests-new-program-eagles
The Protect Our Communities Foundation: http://protectourcommunities.org/2013/12/06/federal-rule-change-will-harm-eagles/
If Center for Biological Diversity issued a press statement, it is not on their website.