August 2, 2011 (Washington D.C.)--The US Fish and Wildlife Service is asking the public to send in their comments regarding its revised draft Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines. The deadline for sending your comments is August 4, 2011.
This concerns people from anywhere in the world, as these guidelines may inspire other countries and be used as justification for killing protected species.
Please submit comments via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org before August 4th. The Guidelines may be downloaded here:
Eagles are subject to a special treatment, here:
Given the short notice, you may or may not have the time to read these documents. Their main points are as follows:
- the guidelines are not mandatory. YOU MAY WANT TO OBJECT TO THAT.
- environmental impact assessments will continue to be commissioned and controlled by windfarm developers. YOU MAY WANT TO OBJECT TO THIS OUTRAGEOUS SITUATION WHICH MAKES A MOCKERY OF THE WHOLE ASSESSMENT PROCESS.
- protected bird species will be allowed to be killed provided the developers request and obtain a "take permit" (a license to kill). All the developer must do is provide "compensation". Here are examples:
"When adverse effects to important habitats cannot be avoided, developers should pursue opportunities to minimize adverse effects to the fullest extent practicable. For example, it may not be possible to avoid removing some forested habitat for a turbine string, but it may be possible to reduce the total amount of forest habitat removed through alternative placement of other structures and to provide compensation for the habitat loss."
My comments: turbine strings are typically installed on hilltops or mountain ridges, where they do maximum damage to raptors and migrating birds. This cannot be mitigated by planting trees elsewhere, or by any other action.
And here is about permits to "take" eagles:
"Compensation may be a condition of permit issuance in cases of nest removal, disturbance or take resulting in mortality that will likely occur over several seasons, result in permanent abandonment of more than a single breeding territory, have large scale impacts, occur at multiple locations, or otherwise contribute to cumulative negative effects."
As someone commented about a project in Maine: the compensation being proposed is akin to "kill babies here, but build an orphanage there". YOU MAY WANT TO OBJECT TO THAT.
Save the Eagles International (STEI) will recommend that impacts of windfarm projects on birds and bats be assessed by independent experts NOT chosen and paid by developers. To finance them STEI will propose that developers pay $300,000 upfront when applying for a planning permit to build a windfarm. The experts would be chosen jointly by USFWS and NGO's renowned for not supporting blindly the wind industry (e.g. the American Bird Conservancy or STEI). It must be remembered that we are talking about 3-year pre-construction studies conducted by one or more qualified ornithologists. The revised Guidelines say: "three years of pre-construction studies may be appropriate in many circumstances". The Eagle Conservation Plan says: "Ideally conducted for 3 years pre-construction."
STEI will also recommend that no windfarms be allowed within 15 kilometers of eagle nests. This is what the Spanish Ornithological Society recommended in its first version of their current guidelines. They then rapidly published a new version in which their recommendation had been watered down into a warning that there may be a risk to the eagles if windfarms were installed within 15 km of their nests. Obviously, pressure had been applied upon them. But the idea remains the same: within 15 km, breeding eagles may be killed.
As for young roaming eagles, they may be killed anywhere, especially on hilltops and mountain ridges. Indeed this is where eagles fly to get added lift from deflected winds, and where most windfarms are located for their prevailing windy conditions.
Eagles and windfarms are therefore on a collision course. The great birds' future is very bleak. The USFWS guidelines are in essence a generalized licence to kill protected species, including some almost extinct such as the Whooping Crane (of which the only viable flock has 383 individuals, whose migration corridor is being invaded by windfarms and power lines).
"The Department of Energy, Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) figures indicate that approximately 2,433 known wind turbines have been constructed in the United States portion of the whooping crane [migrating] corridor, with another 1,355 proposed for construction in the near to midterm future that will be connected to the Federal power grid (WAPA 2007). There are an additional substantial number of projects that would not be connected to the federal power grid and are not included in WAPA’s database. The location of existing wind energy facilities is provided on a Department of Energy web page at
The Whooping Crane is doomed, my dear friends. Yet, did you hear the Audubon Society protest, or the Sierra Club, or the NRDC? To understand why, we'd need to see their income statements.
STEI doesn't receive any money at all. We are all volunteers. This allows us to say what we think, which is that biodiversity is in grave peril, and that windfarms are the cause. Cats and windows don't kill eagles and whooping cranes. Windfarms and their power lines do.
YOU MAY WISH TO SUPPORT STEI'S RECOMMENDATIONS.
Whatever you write, short or long, sweet or bitter, make sure you send your comments to email@example.com before August 4th. And forward to your contacts, please.
Editor's note: Several wind farms are proposed for San Diego's East County, thus we have included this editorial although the author is nonlocal due to the short deadline and interest among many of our readers in eagle protection and wind farm issues. The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.