The Obama administration is under heat again, but this time the pressure is unrelated to the Affordable Care Act. On Friday, it was revealed that wind power companies will be able to accidentally injure and kill bald and golden eagles for 30 years without fear of penalty or recourse. Wind farms with large rotating turbines have inadvertently killed the national bird. Prior regulations required companies to account for the number of bald eagles killed by the turbines if the amount was higher than estimated. Reporting has now been deemed voluntary as a result of these recent changes. Under these new regulation guidelines, permits may be considered for review every five years.
According to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, “Renewable energy development is vitally important to our nation’s future, but it has to be done the right way. The changes in this permitting program will help the renewable energy industry and others develop projects that can operate in the longer term, while ensuring bald and golden eagles continue to thrive for generations.”
While efforts for energy sustainability to create a “green” environment are typically met with enthusiasm, many have expressed an opposing opinion due to the viewed attack on the bald eagle, which is thought to be a symbol of the country’s strength.
David Yarnold, who is the president of the National Audubon Society, released a statement against the recent sanction. “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check. It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the bald eagle.”
Michael Hutchins of the American Bird Conservancy spoke about the concern for managing resources with long-term considerations. “The Obama administration has called for 20% of our energy to be generated by renewables by 2030. That’s approximately 12 times the amount of power generated. If it’s not done right, what kind of an impact is that going to have on birds and bats?”
“You have to provide more certainty for the eagles and make sure they’re protected,” said John Kostyack of the National Wildlife Federation.
The director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association John Anderson said, “This is not a program to kill eagles. This permit program is about conservation.”
Though there are no present fears considering endangerment for the bald eagles, many are fascinated by watching the birds and want to ensure the population continues to thrive.
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons and Courtesy of Magnus Manske]