U.S. to issue eagle-killing permits to wind industry

The controversial move is an attempt to balance the costs of green energy

Topics: Wind energy, eagles, Green energy, wildlife, ,

Nobody said green energy was going to come easy.

In an attempt to encourage the growth of wind power, the Obama administration announced Friday that it is offering wind farms 30 years of leeway to kill and harm bald and golden eagles. The new regulations, which were requested by the wind industry, will provide companies that  seek a permit with legal protection, preventing them from having to pay penalties for eagle deaths.

Last week, in the first decision of its kind, Duke Energy Renewable agreed to pay a $1 million fine after its wind turbines were linked to the deaths of over 160 birds, including 14 golden eagles.

As wind turbines are essentially, if inadvertently, designed to take down eagles, some bloodshed might be inevitable. Duke Energy was charged after the Justice Department determined that it had failed to take all possible measures to reduce bird deaths. The new regulations will require that companies do the same. According to the AP, however, the rules make it clear that permits will only be revoked as a last resort.



Torn between green energy and wildlife conservation, some environmental groups are now distancing themselves from the wind industry. The National Audubon Society said it would challenge the decision. ”Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check,” Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold said in a statement.

Both birds are protected under federal law, but are not considered endangered.

 

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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