Two conservation groups are urging federal regulators to slow down on approval of what would be the nation's largest wind farm until more efforts are made to mitigate the impact on eagles.
The groups — the American Bird Conservancy and the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance — told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a 15-page letter released Wednesday that between 46 and 64 golden eagles would likely be killed every year by the spinning blades of 1,000 wind turbines planned by the Power Company of Wyoming.
"ABC and BCA support the development of renewable energy resources such as wind, but it has to be done responsibly," said Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of the American Bird Conservancy's Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign.
The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management — both part of the Interior Department — are considering a permit for the Wyoming project that would require steps to minimize the threat to eagles protected under federal law. But a recent Fish and Wildlife Service rule-making exempts wind generators from prosecution for causing eagle deaths for up to 30 years. The extension of the permit period from five years has raised concerns among environmentalists about the ecological effects of the growing wind industry.
The FWS and BLM are still considering the Wyoming company's permit application. If approved, construction on the wind farm is expected to begin this fall.