Selective enforcement for killing protected birds

Previous post mentioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave permission for a permit to move forward which would allow a wind farm in Goodhue County, Minnesota to kill up to 8 or 15 eagles a year for the next 30 years.

In addition to the uneconomical and unintended-consequence-causing energy that is produced, we are staring at a highly selective enforcement of federal laws against killing eagles and migratory birds.

Official permission to kill eagles?

An article in the Wall Street Journal from Robert Bryce points this out:  The Fish and Wildlife Service is Not for the Birds.

The Feds have given permission for the wind farm developer to apply for a permit to ‘take’ eagles. That’s the term used for killing animals or taking away someone’s property.

The worst case estimate of eagles to be ‘taken’ annually is between eight and fifteen. The permit, if issued, would run for 30 years.

The company expects 1 or 2 a year. Worst case is 8 or 15.

Let’s do some math.

That works out to be 30 or 60 over the life of the project at the low-end or 240 or 450 in the worst case. Your results may vary, but I’ll guess the actual toll will be somewhere in the middle.

Defacto exemption for ‘clean energy’

So in addition to moving towards explicit permission to kill off a bunch of eagles in this specific case, the wind industry has had defacto exemption from the laws.

The article explains:

For years, the wind industry has had de facto permission to violate both the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (which protects 1,000 species) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Federal authorities have never brought a case under either law—despite the Fish and Wildlife Service’s estimate that domestic turbines kill some 440,000 birds per year.

I’ve read general comments before about the toll that wind turbines inflict on the eagle and condor population in California, but haven’t seen as good a summary as this. Consider

…the Pine Tree wind project, a three-year-old facility owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Since 2009, nine golden eagle carcasses have been recovered at the project and reported to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Los Angeles Times reporter Louis Sahagun reported on Feb. 16, 2012, that at least six of the birds had been struck by turbine blades. Yet there have been no indictments.

Mr. Bryce points out the penalty in the Eagle Protection Act is a $250,000 fine and two years in jail. That means the Pine Tree project should be exposed for a fine of about $2,250,000 and a criminal indictment with nine counts. Yet Mr. Bryce cites an official representative who says the incidents are under investigation.

Aggressive enforcement elsewhere

In contrast to how easy ‘clean energy’ has it, there is aggressive enforcement against ‘brown energy’:

While the wind industry enjoys its exemption from prosecution under these federal wildlife laws, the Interior Department has aggressively brought cases against the oil-and-gas industry. In 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service filed criminal indictments against three drillers who were operating in North Dakota’s Bakken field. One of those companies, Continental Resources, was indicted for killing a single bird (a Say’s Phoebe) that is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This law was adopted in 1918, at a time when several bird species were being decimated by hunters.

A criminal indictment for a Say’s Phoebe on one hand, and a dragging investigation for 9 golden eagles on the other.

Here’s the visible formula:

  • 1 migratory bird = criminal indictment
  • 9 golden eagles = ongoing investigation

Hat tip to Million Dollar Way, who said in Feds to Allow Slicers and Dicers to Kill Bald Eagles For 30 Years:

So, while the faux environmentalists are upset about sand/gravel pits, they applaud killing unlimited numbers of eagles (and hawks and whooping cranes and ducks), although “at most,” 15 eagles/year is the likely worse case scenario.

My posts on the slice-and-dice industry:

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