Wind Farms: ‘Blending’ ‘Green’ Dreams with Wholesale Avian Slaughter
The rampant slaughter of millions of birds and bats – including rare, endangered and majestic species, like America’s iconic bald and golden eagles – is one of the many ‘inconvenient’ facts that moves the wind industry to lie like fury and – when the corpses can no longer be hidden and the lying fails – to issue court proceedings to literally bury those facts (see our post here).
But – in America, at least – it seemed that the ‘inconvenient’ facts were starting to catch up with a vengeance, with US authorities finally doing their jobs, punishing wind power outfits for what is nothing less than thepointless slaughter of thousands of rare, endangered and, what should be, protected birds:
The avian victims of these things in the US, include its National Icon, the bald eagle which – despite their revered status – get sliced, diced and dumped at the bases of turbines in the same unceremonious manner as other less-loved species (see this article). And also include a mounting pile of golden eagle corpses.
Wherever these things operate, majestic raptors cop a merciless belting: 3MW monsters with 50m blades, have outer tips thundering along at over 350km/h – which tend to make short work of an eagle on the hunt for prey:
However, in the US, as the corpses and fines mount up, wind power outfits are looking to slip the noose, by … you guessed it … rewriting the rules.
Sorry, Bald Eagles: Wind Farms Are Allowed to Kill You Now
Verinique De Rugy
27 June 2015
If you and I kill a bald eagle or disturb its nest, the consequences can be severe. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the felony killing of a bald eagle is punished by a fine of $250,000 and prison time. The authorities are taking the killing seriously. Well, sort of.
As it turns out, not everyone is equal under the do-not-kill-bald-eagles law. If you happen to be a favored industry like say, a wind farm, you could get a get-out-of-jail-free card after killing up to five bald eagles if you request a permit and the feds grants it. The Associated Press reports:
A California wind farm will become the first in the U.S. to avoid prosecution if eagles are injured or die when they run into the giant turning blades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday. Under President Barack Obama, wind energy has exploded as a pollution-free energy source that can help reduce the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. But it is not without opposition from wildlife advocates. The Shiloh IV Wind Project LLC will receive a special permit allowing up to five golden eagles to be accidentally killed, harmed or disturbed over five years. Previously, such a violation could potentially draw criminal charges and discourage private investment in wind farms, which are known for catching birds in their rotors.
Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe said the permit encourages development of renewable energy while requiring the wind company to take steps to protect eagles from turbines and power lines. The move will help California reach its goal of producing one-third of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, he said.
“We can’t solve the problem of eagle mortality at wind farms overnight,” Mr. Ashe said in a statement. The Federal government is being sued over the permits, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Bald eagles watch out, turns out, you are not that special after all. That’s a lesson some 888,000 bats and 573,000 birds had to learn back in 2012.
The Federal government is being sued over the permits, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Bald eagles watch out, turns out, you are not that special after all. That’s a lesson some 888,000 bats and 573,000 birds had to learn back in 2012.
It’s not just raptors that cop a flogging, migratory species are also sliced and diced too – at least you can’t pin the wind industry for being ‘speciest’.
Chaplin, Saskatchewan, is an area with a large salt lake and is also peppered with a number of smaller lakes and wetlands. The brine shrimp that inhabit the salt lakes, attract thousands of migratory birds that turn up to feast on their way North in the summer and South in the winter:see this CBC News report here.
But the weary travellers’ desire to fatten up on their journeys is going to come with a mortal risk, with plans to install 77 giant bird blenders smack in the middle of the lake and wetland complex.
Naturalist opposes wind turbine system in bird sanctuary; 77 wind turbines proposed for bird sanctuary near Chaplin, Sask.
29 July 2015
A Saskatchewan-based naturalist and author is worried that migratory birds will be killed by wind turbines proposed to be built near Chaplin, Sask. The proposed development site sits approximately three kilometres north of an internationally recognized bird sanctuary at Chaplin Lake. “The Chaplin Lake area is crucial to several species of shore birds, including some endangered species such as the piping plover,” said Trevor Herriot, who’s based in Regina.
Herriot said he’s unconvinced by assertions in an environmental impact study that 77 wind turbines built north of the Chaplin Lake reserve will pose a low risk to the migratory birds passing north through the area. Ontario-based Algonquin Power Company won SaskPower’s request for proposals to develop and build the wind turbine system. Algonquin is a subsidiary of Windlectric Inc. SaskPower estimates the turbine system will generate an additional 175 megawatts of wind power for the province’s power grid. The project is expected to be finished by the end of 2016.
“There are hundreds of thousands of birds who will pass north of that lake every year, and they will go directly through this gauntlet of 77 wind turbines,” Herriot said. He noted that four per cent of the global population of piping plovers nest there. Other well-known shorebirds, like the sanderling, pass through the area at counts of 50,000 or 60,000 each spring, he said.
In a blog post, referring to the “terms of reference for environmental impact statement” drafted by the engineering firm Stantec, Herriot notes the environmental impact statement was paid for by Algonquin. In an interview on CBC Saskatchewan’s the Morning Edition, Brady Pollock, director of environmental assessment for the province, responded to the potential conflict of interest by Algonquin paying Stantec for the environmental study about land it seeks to build wind turbines on.
“This is simply the process. The proponent prepares the document and then it undergoes a rigorous and thorough review by government itself. So it really is an independent, arms-length review of information provided by the proponent,” Pollock said.
Pollock said the process is independent, because the government conducts an independent analysis. “It considers all available information, whether it’s info provided directly in the environmental statement [provided by Algonquin] or various literature sources out there, or previous experiences at our own available data on the existing site,” Pollock said. Once the review is complete, analytical findings based on that review will be made available to the public, along with the environmental impact statement, Pollock said.
For his part, Herriot said he’s not opposed to wind turbine systems for generating power. He does, however, disagree with the proposed location for Algonquin’s system. “It’s one of the birdiest spots on the Great Plains and here we are putting a wind turbine there,” he said. “They’re saying there are very few birds that use the area or move through it. I’d like to see how many days of research they did that. And I’d like to see them take that information to a bird scientist at a university who is independent, and see whether it has any rigor or validity,” Herriot said.
For a little taste of what so-called “green” power is all about, we’ve put together this little collection of videos:
Eagle carcass counting in Norway
A flock of partridges try to fly through a wind turbine facility in Germany
Then there are the flocks of vultures crossing the Gibraltar strait.
Eagles maimed and killed in California
The fastest in flight – a white-throated needletail – downed in front of bird watchers in the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland.
A vulture meets with a wind turbine in Lentas, south Crete, Greece.
In this satirical piece – we learn that wind turbines help us to clear the skies of pesky birds
And this review of environmental harm to birds and bats by wind turbines.