[CT Birds] Fwd: Wind Eagle Take Permit Not Justified - Bird-Smart Wind Petition Alert

mcavallero1 at comcast.net mcavallero1 at comcast.net
Wed Feb 22 21:10:44 EST 2012

Hi everyone - 
i thought this email below might be of interest to this birding community so i am just passing it along as an FYI for everyone. 
Mona Cavallero 

----- Forwarded Message ----- 
From: Steve Holmer <sholmer at abcbirds.org> 
Subject: Wind Eagle Take Permit Not Justified - Bird-Smart Wind Petition Alert 


Wind Eagle Take Permit Not Justified 

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) voicing strong concerns about the first-ever application for a special permit that would allow Golden Eagles to be incidentally killed. The proposed “programmatic incidental take permit,” submitted under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, would allow Oregon’s West Butte Wind Project to kill, harm, or disturb up to three Golden Eagles over five years, as long as certain conservation measures were implemented. 

ABC’s letter states that the data upon which an FWS decision would be based are markedly deficient, and that the federal government is not meeting standards prescribed in its own regulations published less than three years ago. ABC also cites emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, between senior Department of Interior staff casting doubt on the whether the project could ever be safe for birds, including Golden Eagles. 

ABC supports bird-smart wind energy that is properly sited, constructed, and operated to minimize bird impacts, with appropriate compensatory mitigation for unavoidable losses. This includes permitting, which would allow FWS to advance good projects while preventing bad ones. It is vital that we get the first permit right since it will likely be used as a model for future similar permits. But more information is needed to determine the actual risk to Golden and Bald Eagles, and the permit should not be issued without that information. 

Specifically, the project has failed to provide adequate data on the Golden Eagle population and Golden Eagle prey abundance in the area, and has not performed sufficient avian-use surveys. 
The take permit application was submitted by West Butte Wind Power LLC. FWS subsequently prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment. The project, if built, would be a 104 MW wind facility located on private land in Crook and Deschutes Counties, Oregon. Necessary infrastructure for the project, including power lines and an access road, would be located on public land administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. 

ABC’s comment letter is available here ( http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/pdf/ABC_eagle_take_permit_comments_2-17-12.pdf ) 

Action Alert: Support Bird-Smart Wind Petition 

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to protect millions of birds from the negative impacts of wind energy by developing regulations that will safeguard wildlife and reward responsible wind energy development. The more than 100-page petition for rulemaking , prepared by ABC and the public interest law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, calls for establishing a mandatory permitting system for the operation of wind energy projects and mitigation of their impacts on migratory birds. 

Now we are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to open a public comment period so that the public can weigh in. Please go to http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5400/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9510 to send your comment. 

Thus far 75 organizations http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/pdf/petition_endorsements022112.pdf have endorsed the petition. To sign on your organization please send sholmer at abcbirds.org your name, organization, city and state. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated in 2009 that approximately 440,000 birds were killed each year by collisions with wind turbines. The massive expansion of wind power in the United States will likely result in the deaths of more than one million birds each year by 2030. Wind energy projects are also expected to adversely impact almost 20,000 square miles of wildlife habitat. 

ABC filed the petition because it is clear that the voluntary guidelines the government has drafted will neither protect birds adequately nor give the wind industry the regulatory certainty it has been asking for. Voluntary guidelines have been in place since 2003, and yet preventable bird deaths at wind farms keep occurring. This includes thousands of Golden Eagles thought to have died at Altamont Pass in California and recent mass mortality events that killed more than 500 songbirds in West Virginia. 

The petition is available online at: http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/pdf/wind_rulemaking_petition.pdf 

ABC’s petition proposes a model rule that would allow the government to consider impacts of wind farms on all bird species, as well as bats and other wildlife. This proposal contrasts sharply with the voluntary guidelines that allow the industry to police itself and continue to disregard harm to birds and other wildlife. 

Steve Holmer 
Senior Policy Advisor 
American Bird Conservancy 

202/234-7181 ext 216 
202/744-6459 cell 
sholmer at abcbirds.org 

Director, Bird Conservation Alliance 

More information about the CTBirds mailing list