Posting in Energy
The U.S. government is drafting guidelines to protect bats and birds from being killed by striking wind turbines.
The U.S. Department of the Interior today released draft voluntary guidelines to prevent bats and birds from fatally colliding with windmills.
Wind power is a burgeoning part of the clean energy mix in the United States, and the government policy is promoting even broader development. It is also proving to be a hazard for our feathery and fury friends.
There are widespread reports of bird and bat fatalities. The magnitude of the problem relative to the ecological impact of fossil fuels is open for debate, but the phenomenon happens so frequently that it has become subject to scientific inquiry.
My colleague Melissa Mahony recently wrote about a university study that determined that the color of a wind turbine could affect bat strikes (the bugs that bats hunt prefer lighter colors).
The issue has also come to the attention of the National Audubon Society, which favors the development of energy sources that reduce the threat of global warming with the caveat that wind turbine facilities are not built in environmentally sensitive areas.
That is effectively what the Department of the Interior is recommending. It suggests that all stakeholders follow its guidance to make the best possible decision for site selection on public lands. The guidelines incorporate “lessons learned” from last year’s fast-tracked energy projects.
More stringent rules are being drafted for raptors that are protected by federal law including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
“Development of wind power and other renewable energy sources is a key part of our nation’s energy strategy for the future, and we are committed to facilitating that development,” said Fish and Wildlife Service acting director Rowan Gould.
“This guidance will help our employees work with the wind energy industry to minimize impacts to the environment, and I look forward to receiving comments from the public on these draft documents so the final guidance represents the best path forward.”
Feb 8, 2011
This just shows the government is so encumbered by its own rules and regulations that it can't even get out of its own way. How are we supposed to develop a new renewable energy economy when even something as simple as birds and bats can shut down projects and cause years of delays. Every major renewable project requires the same environmental impact statements, zoning disputes, public hearings, etc. that plagued conventional power stations. As seen in the comments here, nobody is about to cut renewables any slack just because they are green.
Unless we're talking about endangered species, I favor letting evolution run its course. In time, birds and bats that are attracted to turbines (or other dangerous environments) will be deleted from the population. So long as there is not wholesale slaughter, the problem should correct itself. Finding a couple of dead bats under a wind turbine does not constitute wholesale slaughter, IMHO.
Apparently they have chosen to ignore these rules when they approved Cape Wind off Massachusetts. The area where they want to place the towers is adjacent to a breeding area for the endangered piping plover. So we have dozens of beaches closed to protect the chicks in the nest, but lets slice them up in wind turbines as soon as they can fly. Congratulations to the eco Nazis. All of you should be proud that you not only deny people access to beaches for most of the summer, but you will soon kill most of the young birds so the beaches are protected forever.
The oil industry has received far more in public subsidies than renewable energy. Securing oil supplies became the primary objective of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Operation Iraqi Freedom alone has cost $845B & over 4432 American lives as of the latest update to the Wiki article on the subject. Bird & bat strikes on wind turbines are a solvable problem & in the interest of power companies for PR reasons.
"voluntary guidelines" "DOI...suggests" Yeah. Right. Since when has a corporation done anything voluntarily, when it affects their bottom line? Most of these wind turbine projects are done by carpetbagging corporations interested only in sucking up our tax subsidies. Can you spell E-N-R-O-N? Those are the people that are behind the greatest number of wind projects. These industrial monstrosities can be a terrible nuisance to people living nearby and do nothing to benefit the environment on account of the so-called "green credits" that they generate, which allow other polluters to pollute more, simply by ponying up some cash to the carpetbaggers. It's a great scam that will be codified by "cap and trade". That will get the thieves on Wall Street involved, and we'll have "energy derivatives"! Oh boy. I just can't wait until the same people that bought us the housing debacle get to play their money games with our energy and environment! Just another example of corporate America taking advantage of the well meaning but clueless environmentalists. A tree hugger is no match for a corporate suit when it comes to subterfuge.