Robert Bryce: Killing Wildlife in the Name of Climate Change
Robert Bryce’s recent testimony has been reprinted as “Killing Wildlife in the Name of Climate Change“. His testimony is a stark and revealing look into how government regulators and enforcement agencies are effectively turning a blind eye to massive levels of wind energy-caused avian mortality (read: dead birds – including golden eagles and other protected raptors).
Bryce’s testimony reveals how little the push for so-called green energy has to do with environmental protection and sustainability. In fact, his testimony demonstrates that the wind industry has been allowed to essentially avoid prosecution under the Endangered Species Act and The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, as well as other foundational environmental legislation. The fossil fuel industry, however, has been swiftly prosecuted and made to pay extensive fines when their activities had any perceived impacts on birds or other wildlife.
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. Brigham Oil & Gas was charged with killing two mallards and Newfield Production was indicted for the deaths of two mallards, one northern pintail, and one red-necked duck.
In 2012, investigators found that the Pine Tree wind project in California had killed at least six golden eagles. In early 2013, Jill Birchell, a special agent in charge with the Division of Law Enforcement of the Fish and Wildlife Service, told me that a total of nine golden eagles had been killed at the Pine Tree project. A biological assessment of the Pine Tree project estimated that the wind project was killing some 1,595 birds, or about 12 birds per megawatt of installed capacity, per year.xiv
Given the number of dead eagles being found at Pine Tree, and the projections of other bird
mortality, the obvious question is this: Why haven’t the owners of the Pine Tree project been
prosecuted for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Eagle Protection Act?
The reality is that if regulators were seriously concerned with maintaining endangered species, they would apply the law in a fair and balanced manner and move to reduce and control these wind farm “takings” (a “take” is when a person or organization kills, disturbs, or harasses the birds or their eggs) just as they have with the fossil fuel industry.