The Obama administration is engaging in a significant double standard on deaths of golden eagles, prosecuting oil and power companies while excusing their deaths on various wind farms.
The Associated Press’ Dina Cappiello reports that the Obama administration has not once fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company for these birds’ deaths, which occur quite frequently on wind farms. According to estimates from the Wildlife Society Bulletin, wind farms kill 83,000 hunting birds — like hawks, falcons, and eagles — per year.
As part of the fiscal cliff deal in January, Congress passed a one-year extension on $12.1 billion in tax breaks for the wind-energy industry. President Barack Obama has made wind energy a key cog of his administration’s green-energy policy.
The Obama administration has not only refused to prosecute wind-energy companies in the deaths of the birds. Under both the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the death of a single bird without a special permit is illegal.
Cappiello details one particularly stark contrast between the approach to oil and wind companies:
The BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.
But PacifiCorp also operates wind farms in the state, where at least 20 eagles have been found dead in recent years, according to corporate surveys submitted to the federal government and obtained by The Associated Press. They’ve neither been fined nor prosecuted.
In 2011, the federal government charged seven oil companies under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act after 28 bird deaths in North Dakota’s shale oil fields.
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