Comment on the Permit to Kill Eagles with Wind Turbines

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it is soliciting comments through November 12, 2013 on the issuance of a take permit “for recurring eagle mortalities” associated with the operation of the Shiloh IV wind turbine project in Solano County, California.

To appreciate this take permit some content may be useful. On September 12, 2013, the scientists from Fish and Wildlife published “Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Mortalities at Wind Energy Facilities in the Contiguous United States” in the Journal of Raptor Research, concluding,

We found at least 85 dead eagles, .. in 32 wind power plants in 10 states from 1997 to June 30, 2012. Probably our results under represent, perhaps substantially, the numbers of dead eagles in the United States because of the production of wind-generated electricity.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act allows Fish and Wildlife to authorize a bald eagle and golden eagle programmatic take. The Eagle Act’s implementing regulations define ‘‘take’’ as to ‘‘pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, or disturb’’ individuals, their nests and eggs; and ‘‘disturb’’ is further defined as ‘‘to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that causes . . (1) injury to an eagle, . . (2) a decrease in its productivity, . . ”

The Shiloh IV Wind Project will result in recurring eagle mortalities over the life of the project and this take permit has been applied for.

Shiloh IV, is operating a 100 megawatt commercial wind energy facility, consisting of 50 wind turbines. This project was constructed adjacent to other existing wind energy-producing facilities. The project was completed in December 2012 and was a “repowering and infill project” entailing the decommissioning and removal of approximately 230 Kennetech wind turbines originally constructed in the late 1980s.

Given that the 50 wind turbines have already been built and that this permit application was drafted to follow Fish and Wildlife’s (White House approved) January 2011 Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance, there is little chance the permit will not be issued.

But it has been suggested that comments should be submitted seeking a revised Guidance from Fish and Wildlife correcting the double standard of issuing permits for killing bald eagles with wind turbines while charging oil companies for drowning birds in their waste pits, and power companies for electrocuting birds on power lines.

Article by Stuart Kaplow, appearing courtesy Green Building Law Update.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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