Giant Wind-Farm Plan Raises Alarm About Eagle Deaths

A Bald Eagle is seen October 8, 2012 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park. It was established in 1872. Yellowstone extends through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The park's name is derived from the Yellowstone River, which runs through the park. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)
National Journal
Mike Magner
Feb. 12, 2014, 2:38 p.m.

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.

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