Cheers and Jeers:11/25

Cheers and Jeers:11/25

pstrongCheers /strongto the Obama administration and the U.S. government for enforcing environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities, winning a $1 million settlement Nov. 22 from a power company that pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two Wyoming wind farms./ppThe Associated Press reported that the Obama administration has championed pollution-free wind power and used the same law against oil companies and power companies for drowning and electrocuting birds. The case against Duke Energy Corp. and its renewable energy arm was the first prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against a wind energy company.nbsp;/ppAll the deaths, which included golden eagles, hawks, blackbirds, wrens and sparrows, occurred from 2009 to 2013.nbsp;img alt=”” src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cb/Golden_Eagle_in_flight_-_2.jpg/653px-Golden_Eagle_in_flight_-_2.jpg” style=”width: 150px; height: 138px; margin: 8px; float: right;” //ppldquo;Our goal is to provide the benefits of wind energy in the most environmentally responsible way possible,rdquo; said Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables,rdquo; in a statement. ldquo;We deeply regret the impacts to golden eagles at two of our wind facilities. We have always self-reported all incidents, and from the time we discovered the first fatality, wersquo;ve been working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to take proactive steps to correct the problem.rdquo;/ppThese steps, among the first in the wind industry, have included:span class=”Apple-tab-span” style=”white-space: pre;” /span/pullipInstalling and testing new radar technology to assist in the detection of airborne eagles on or near the site, which was developed from the same technology used in Afghanistan to monitor incoming missilesnbsp;/p/lilipInstituting a curtailment program using field biologists, who radio for turbines to be temporarily shut down upon sighting an eagle in the vicinity/p/lilipFurther curtailing turbines during periods of high eagle flight activity/p/lilipInstituting migratory bird training programs for wind technicians and developing a reporting system to track any findings related to avian populations on the sites/p/lilipRemoving rock and debris piles that attract eagle preynbsp;/p/lilipContinuing to voluntarily report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) all eagle and migratory bird mortalities and meeting with the agency regularly to discuss adaptive management measures to reduce avian mortality./p/li/ulpimg alt=”” src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Wind_Turbine-Udumalpet.jpg” style=”width: 150px; height: 200px; margin: 8px; float: left;” /ldquo;Top of the World and Campbell Hill were some of the first wind sites we brought into service, during a period when our companyrsquo;s and the wind industryrsquo;s understanding of eagle impacts at wind farms was still evolving,rdquo; said Tim Hayes, environmental development director at Duke Energy Renewables, in a statement. ldquo;The development of these sites from 2007 to 2009 was before the release of the USFWS wind energy guidelines or its eagle conservation plan guidance./ppldquo;Our voluntary monitoring and curtailment of turbines have been effective. Upon implementing these measures, more than a year passed without any known golden eagle fatalities at these sites. We remain committed to continuing our work in cooperation with the USFWS to implement appropriate site-specific measures to minimize and mitigate any avian impacts,rdquo; said Hayes./ppThese $1 million in fines will be dispersed to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, the Wyoming Game Fish Department, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Conservation Fund./ppA study in September by federal biologists found that wind turbines had killed at least 67 bald and golden eagles since 2008. Wyoming had the most eagle deaths. That did not include deaths at Altamont Pass, an area in northern California where wind farms kill an estimated 60 eagles a year./ppUntil Nov. 22, not a single wind energy company had been prosecuted for a death of an eagle or other protected bird mdash; even though each death is a violation of federal law, unless a company has a federal permit. No wind energy facilities have obtained permits./pdivnbsp;/div

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