Some wind farms will get legal protection for killing and injuring eagles for as long as 30 years under new rules announced by the government on December 6, according to the Associated Press.
In an article published Dec. 6, the AP said the new policy was adopted by the Obama administration under pressure from the wind-power industry.
Wind farms would have to take additional steps if they kill or injure more eagles than they originally estimate, or if it later becomes apparent that injuries or deaths were affecting eagle populations, the AP said. Permits would be reviewed every five years, and the wind companies will be required to report the number of eagle fatalities. Currently, that reporting is voluntary and the Interior Department won’t release the reports.
“This is not a program to kill eagles,” John Anderson, the director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association, told the AP. “This permit program is about conservation.”
But David Yarnold, the president of the Audubon Society, called the Interior Department’s new policy a “blank check” for the wind industry, and said his group would challenge the decision.
In November, Duke Energy Renewables was fined $1 million in connection with the deaths of eagles and other birds at two Wyoming wind farms, marking the first time that a wind energy company had been prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Earlier, a study by biologists found that wind farms have been responsible for the deaths of at least 67 bald and golden eagles. Wind turbines also have been blamed for the deaths of more than 600,000 bats.