Voting for wildlife extermination

August 2, 2012

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Extending the wind energy PTC will drive eagles and other majestic birds to extinction

Paul Driessen

The latest justification for extending the industrial wind electricity production tax credit (PTC) is that we need an “all of the above” energy policy. The slogan falls flat, even when it’s expanded to “all of the above and below” – which is rarely the case with radical environmentalists and “progressive” politicians, who steadfastly oppose “any of the below” (ie, hydrocarbons).

America needs an “all of the sensible” energy policy. If an energy option makes sense – technically, economically and environmentally – it should be implemented. If it flunks, it should be scrapped.

Industrial wind energy mandates, renewable portfolio standards, subsidies, feed-in tariffs and production tax credits fail every test. They flunk environmental standards disastrously. In fact, they are subsidizing the slaughter of countless eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, herons, cranes, egrets, other birds and bats.

The wind PTC epitomizes “you didn’t build it.” If any business “didn’t get there on your own,” or was “successful because, along the line,” somebody (in government) “gave you some help” – it is Big Wind.

Industrial wind energy has been mandated, propped up, subsidized, built and protected by government. Elected and unelected officials at the federal, state and local levels have given it every unfair advantage that taxpayer and ratepayer money, legal favors and exemptions, and crony corporatism could bestow upon it. Meanwhile, in numerous cases, the same legislative, regulatory, environmentalist and industrialist cronies have penalized and marginalized Big Wind’s hydrocarbon and nuclear competitors – often for the same reasons that are ignored with wind energy.

Industrial wind is actually our least sustainable energy resource. It requires perpetual subsidies to survive. The tax revenues it takes from productive sectors of the economy, the insufficient and unreliable nature of wind electricity, and the exorbitant electricity rates that wind turbines impose on factories and businesses, kill two to four jobs for every “green” job created. Wind is anet job loser.

Big Wind also imposes excessive environmental impacts. It requires vast amounts of raw materials and land for turbines, backup power and long transmission lines. The extraction and processing of rare earth metals and other materials devastates large agricultural, scenic and wildlife habitat areas and harms people’s health, especially in China. Worst, the turbines are returning numerous bird and bat species to the edge of extinction, after decades of patient, costly efforts to nurse them back to health.

These are not sparrows and pigeons killed by housecats. They are bats that eat insects and protect crops. They are some of our most important and magnificent raptors, herons, cranes, condors and other majestic sovereigns of our skies. They are being chopped out of the air and driven from numerous habitats.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and other experts estimate that well over 500,000 birds and countless bats are being killed annually by turbines. The subsidized slaughter “could easily be over 500” golden eagles a year in our western states, Save the Eagles International biologist Jim Wiegand told me. Bald eagles are also being butchered. The body count for the two species could soon reach 1,000 a year.

In the 86-square-mile area blanketed by the Altamont Pass wind facility, no eagles have nested for over 20 years, and golden eagle nest sites have declined by half near the actual facility, even though both areas are prime eagle habitat, says Wiegand. Wildlife expert Dr. Shawn Smallwood estimates that 2,300 golden eagles have been killed by Altamont turbines over the past 25 years.

The wind industry keeps the publicly acknowledged death toll “low” and “acceptable” by employing deliberately flawed methodologies, says Wiegand. Companies have crews search around turbines that are not operating; search only within narrow radiuses of turbines, thus missing birds that were flung further by the impact or limped off to die elsewhere; search for carcasses only every 2-4 weeks, allowing scavengers to take most of them away; avoid using dogs to sniff for bodies; not count disabled or wounded birds and bats; and pick up carcasses, under the guideline of “slice, shovel and shut up.”

High security at most wind turbine sites makes independent analysis almost impossible, adds ABC wind energy coordinator Kelly Fuller. Even the faulty (fraudulent?) raw bird kill data are rarely made public and are difficult to access even through the Freedom of Information Act. Amazingly, Fish & Wildlife does not require that the information be made public. What little does get released is too often filtered, massaged and manipulated – and now the FWS may allow the industry to put even these suspect body counts into private data banks that would not be subject to FOIA.

The FWS and Justice Department prosecuted and fined oil companies for the unintentional deaths of just 28 small migratory birds (no raptors and no rare, threatened or endangered species) over several months throughout North Dakota. They fined ExxonMobil $600,000 for accidentally killing 85 birds over a five-year period in five states. But they have never prosecuted or penalized a single wind turbine company for its eco-slaughter. Now they are going much further.

The Service has proposed to grant “programmatic take” permits that would allow wind turbine operators to repeatedly, systematically, legally and “inadvertently” injure, maim and kill bald and golden eagles –turning what has been outrageously selective (non)enforcement of endangered species laws into a 007 license to kill. While the new rule “is not specifically designed for the wind industry” (as an industry spokesman helpfully pointed out), Big Wind will be by far the biggest beneficiary.

The FWS says it can do this based on illusory “advanced conservation practices” that are “scientifically supportable,” approved by the Service, and “represent the best available techniques to reduce eagle disturbance and ongoing mortalities to a level where remaining take is unavoidable and incidental to otherwise lawful activity.” The Service also claims “mitigation” and other “additional” measures may be implemented where necessary to “ensure the preservation” of eagles as a species.

When its goal is to restrict development, the FWS frequently defines species, subspecies or “distinct population segments” for sage grouse, spotted owls, “jumping mice” and other wildlife – or labels a species “imperiled” in a selected location, even when it is abundant in nearby locations. With eagles, the proposed “take” rules strongly suggest that the Service could easily say the presence of eagles in some parts of the Lower 48 States or even just Alaska would mean their preservation is ensured, even if they are exterminated or driven out of numerous habitats. (Ditto for other species imperiled by wind turbines.)

Attempts to “mitigate” impacts or establish new population segments will almost certainly mean imposing extra burdens, restrictions and costs on land owners and users outside of turbine-impact areas.

Another vital, majestic species being “sliced” back to the verge of extinction is the whooping crane, North America’s tallest bird. Since 2006, installed turbine capacity within the six-state whooping crane flyway has skyrocketed from 3,600 megawatts to some 16,000 MW – and several hundred tagged and numbered whooping cranes “have turned up missing and are unaccounted for,” says Wiegand. And yet, another 136,700 MW of new bird Cuisinarts are planned for these six states!

The Service knows this is happening, and yet turns a blind eye – and Big Wind is not about to admit that its turbines are butchering whooping cranes, bald eagles, Peregrine falcons, bats and other rare species.

This subsidized slaughter and legalized carnage cannot continue. Every vote to extend the PTC, or approve wind turbines in or near important bird habitats and flyways, is a vote for ultimate extinction of majestic and vital species in numerous areas all over the United States.

Wind energy is not green, eco-friendly, sustainable or sensible. Extending the subsidized slaughter is not something any members of Congress, state legislatures or county commissions – Republican or Democrat – should want to have on their conscience.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author or Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

 



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Comments

  1. Mike Barnard says:

    If Mr. Wiegand were accurate, this would be a cause for
    concern. If Mr. Wiegand were even a wildlife biologist, this might be the basis
    for discussion. Neither, however, is true.

    Regarding whooping cranes, there are no records of any
    whooping crane even being harmed or displaced by a wind farm, never mind
    killed. None. Zero.

    Tom Stehn, the foremost expert on whooping cranes on the
    planet, and the person most individually responsible for their recovery over
    the past 30 years of working with them, has testified in court that recent
    reductions in whooping crane numbers are due to State of Texas water management
    policies during the 2008-2009 drought.

    Mr. Wiegand is actually an antiques dealer who studied
    undergraduate wildlife biology 40 years ago at Berkeley. He’s also hates wind
    farms. His claims include:
- a 28 year conspiracy by the US Fish and Wildlife
    service,
- that hundreds of PhDs, professional wild biologists and dozens of
    preservation organizations are involved
- that the carefully worked out bird
    mortality counting methodology by the above is wrong by a factor of ten.

    Mr. Wiegand is not a credible source, he’s a crank who
    is making things up.

    References and quotations proving all of the above in the
    attached reference material:
http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/Are-wind-farms-killing-endangered-whooping-cranes

  2. Jim Wiegand says:

     Here are some real facts about the wind industry. Wind Farms  slaughter birds.
    Millions of them and most are protected species. Wind farms do not kill
    2.9 birds per MW as the industry claims these turbines kill between
    30-100 birds per MW.  That is until their populations start plummeting.
    The information below was copied from a report released in 2008 in by a
    group of University Professors and Ornithologists that were not paid off
    by the industry.

    Development of wind projects is likely to cause:

    a.
    Bird mortality caused by collisions with operating turbines and/or
    elements of auxiliary infrastructure, in particular overhead power
    lines;

                      
    b. Decrease in population due to
    loss and fragmentation of habitats caused by deterring effect of the
    wind turbines and/or development of

    communication and energy infrastructure related to operations of the wind turbines,

    c. Disturbance to populations, in particular to short- and long – range bird migrations (the barrier effect).

    The
    wind industry has been slaughtering bird populations and lying about it
    for decades. What is written above is the reason why the Wood
    Buffalo-Aransas Whooping Cranes population is disappearing. Their 2012
    population should be around 375-400 but it is only about half that due
    to the explosion of wind industry development in their migration
    corridor. It is not drought that is killing them as the USFWS and wind
    industry would like us to believe, but thousands of 400-500 ft wind
    turbines slashing at 200 mph through hundreds of millions of cubic feet
    of air space.

    The widely quoted USFWS estimate of 440,000 birds
    killed annually by the wind industry is years outdated. Yet it is still
    being used. Even though it was underestimated this number  was based on only 25GW of
    installed capacity. Today in the US we are at 53GW of installed
    capacity, with another 10,000 MW currently under construction. Then one
    has to consider these factors that come into play with these estimates.
    The USFWS has only “Voluntary Regulations” for the wind industry. The
    industry can do what ever they want and nothing will happen to them. I
    have gone through the bogus mortality studies conducted by mercenary
    biologists around wind turbines. They are using search areas that are
    deliberately 8-10 times too small; their searches are also not done
    daily. This is needed to try to keep up with scavengers that are making a
    living off of chopped up birds. The wind industry has gag orders
    written into contracts with lease holders and employees to silence these
    people. There is high security at all wind farms. The wind industry
    personnel are routinely picking up bodies and they hide them. I have
    documentation on this. Some studies from out of this country show a
    death rate of over 100 birds per MW from wind turbines but the AWEA
    estimates only 2.9 birds killed per MW. These numbers might as well come
    from Syria and Iran because the real numbers are at least 10 times
    higher.            

    The time to move is TODAY if you want to
    help save the whopping cranes and other rare bird species. For this to
    take place the public needs to reject all the wind industry lies,
    studies and cover stories about their impacts because they have been
    rigged for 28 years. The fact that no whooping crane death has ever been
    recorded at a wind farm is true, but it means nothing. The industry
    posturing of no dead body, equals no evidence, and therefore we are
    innocent is statement of total fabrication.

    By now everyone
    should realize that industry operates in complete secrecy with total
    control of their wind farms. Wind farms are patrolled daily by personnel
    looking for bodies and a huge white bird would be hard to miss. A
    sliced up whooping crane body will never be produced from a wind farm
    until they get their incidental kill permits (this is in their plans)
    from the USFWS. Some whooping cranes are wearing GPS transmitters, but
    if one happens to die at a wind farm with a transmitter on, they know
    the drill, just take the transmitter and give it a ride away from the
    site.

    There really is enough indirect evidence to conclude that
    the wind industry is killing the whooping crane and millions of other
    birds that go unreported by this industry. There is even more evidence
    then that what used to convict murderer Drew Peterson. But if anyone
    disagrees then just try to change the USFWS “Voluntary regulations” for
    this industry so that a body could not be hidden. Such an action would
    be met head on with every once of resistance the industry could muster
    because they know that if wind farm secrecy and the gag orders were ever
    lifted, this industry would shrivel up over night.

    For more
    information on the Whooping cranes visit the Whooping Crane Conservation
    Association web site and look up flock status. Make sure you up the
    graph that shows their steep population decline that began with the
    explosion of turbines that have invaded their migration route. Also when
    you get there you can also read what Tom Stehn had to say about the
    newly adopted (Bogus) USFWS method of counting/exaggerating whooping
    cranes.

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