One of those big bad energy companies has been found guilty of killing 150 rare eagles. You might have missed the story because it wasn’t headline news around the world, which may have something to do with the company being a darling of the renewables movement rather than an oil company and it was wind turbines, not a pipeline rupture or tanker leak, that did the damage. But wind turbines are, indeed, making bird salad. The US government has finally noticed that putting giant spinning blades in bird migratory routes is causing slaughter, especially of large raptors. Not that the wrist slap is likely to put a stop to it.
The impact to bird populations is very serious, as a new study has pointed out.
“Of California’s 23 vulnerable bird species studied (barn owls, golden eagles, road runners, yellow-billed cuckoos…), scientists have found 11 are now experiencing at least a 20% decline in their population growth rates because wind turbines and solar panels are killing them and/or destroying their limited-range habitat.”
Great Golden Eagles, Batman. Can these energy sources, that use so many resources to deliver so little power in such an unreliable way with such a hideous waste-disposal issue at the end of their rather fleeting lives, also be an environmental catastrophe while operating? Are the greens’ favourites the worst imaginable choice in virtually every way? And in California?
Yes, yes and yes. And while you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, there are some species whose eggs you cannot legally break for good reason. As the study in question says,
“We assessed the vulnerability of populations for 23 priority bird species killed at wind and solar facilities in California, USA. Bayesian hierarchical models suggested that 48% of these species were vulnerable to population-level effects from added fatalities caused by renewables and other sources.”
And yes, it’s enough to put you to sleep but then shake you violently awake again. Especially that business about “population-level effects”.
“Effects of renewables extended far beyond the location of energy production to impact bird populations in distant regions across continental migration networks. Populations of species associated with grasslands where turbines were located were most vulnerable to wind. Populations of nocturnal migrant species were most vulnerable to solar, despite not typically being associated with deserts where the solar facilities we evaluated were located.”
You mess with nature and bad things happen, apparently. And suddenly the remarkable features of hydrocarbon fuels, namely their energy density, ease of transportation, small footprint, safe storage and so on require a second look… don’t they?
Probably not. As we’ve indicated before, support for nuclear power is something of a sanity test for those who absolutely loath fossil fuels, and so is awareness that this sort of ecological carnage is a disaster in real as well as PR terms. But it’s a test notable for its high failure rate among climate alarmists.
We mentioned golden eagles above because, as Robert Bradley wrote on Master Resource,
“For decades, the American Wind Energy Association (now part of the American Clean Power Association) has dismissed the ‘avian mortality problem’ as little different than everyday deaths of birds from cats and windows. The Sierra Club echoes this argument in ground-zero wind growth states such as Michigan.”
And while, as he says, it was always a feeble response given how poorly wind power performs, it’s especially so because “it is an open secret was that golden eagles are the particular victims of industrial wind, which inspired a Sierra Club official to dub the technology the ‘Cuisinarts of the Air.’” Ouch. As Bradley adds, “thus the joke: ‘When is an environmentalist not an environmentalist? … When it comes to windpower.’”
The firm that recently fessed up to killing eagles is called ESI, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources which touts itself in the predictable modern way. “Fessed up” is a term here meaning pled guilty in court and accepted fines and restitution exceeding $8 million after it was shown to have ignored warnings from the US Fish and Wildlife Service not to build turbines in high-risk locations. But why would they heed the warnings since the federal government paid them to do it; Bradley quotes a U.S. Department of Justice press release that includes:
“According to the information filed in this case… ESI and its affiliates began commercial operations at new facilities on a schedule intended to meet, among other things, power purchase agreement commitments and qualifying deadlines for particular tax credit rates for renewable energy, and with production amounts not impacted by avoidance and minimization measures that might have been required under an eagle take permit. ESI and its affiliates received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits for generating electricity from wind power at facilities that it operated, knowing that multiple eagles would be killed and wounded without legal authorization, and without, in most instances, paying restitution or compensatory mitigation….”
Still, $8 million is a stiff fine, right? Well, not really. As Gregory Wrightstone observed over at CO2Coalition.org, ESI took steps that did, predictably, kill at least 150 bald and golden eagles at 50 facilities without getting the necessary permits. And “Why would ESI simply fail to do the paperwork that is regularly a part of the process for permitting wind facilities? The answer: money, and a lot of it…. This $8 million settlement appears to be the cost of doing business for ESI in order for them to cash in on the Big Wind green energy scam.” Seems incentives matter after all. And what sort of incentives are these?
“The legalized slaughter of eagles and other large birds of prey was legitimized under the Obama administration and continues today. At the time, it was estimated that nearly 600,000 birds of all types were killed by the much smaller wind footprint at that time, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles. Unknown to most citizens is the fact that the FWS [the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] has established a “take limit” for wind energy companies to kill bald eagles. This would be similar to a bag limit for a hunter. However, hunters dare not as they are not of the protected class and would be subject to a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment for a felony conviction. FWS regularly imposes fines on oil companies and electric transmission firms for inadvertent deaths of bald eagles, all the while giving its seal of approval to green-induced eagle carnage of a grand scale from turbines.”
See the joke about an environmentalist above. But as Wrightstone concludes his piece, “Those promoting the flawed idea that a complete transition from fossil fuels to an economy driven solely by wind and solar need to ask themselves, ‘At what cost?’” And what other cause would they say legitimizes this mass killing of such birds?