Obama Admin. Claims 30-Year Permits for Wind Farms to Kill Eagles 'Furthers Conservation'

Ben Graham | May 5, 2016
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In support of President Obama’s renewable energy plans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are pushing for giving 30-year permits to wind farms that would forgive them for thousands of eagle deaths expected within that frame of time.

Wind energy companies have pressed for these long-term permits, arguing that the current five-year permits leave “too much uncertainty and hampered investment.”

Under the plan announced Wednesday, companies would be allowed to accidentally kill up to 4,200 bald eagles anually via their wind turbines without repercussion — nearly four times the current limit.

Wind farms consist of fields stock full of massive turbines standing as tall as 30-story buildings with blades as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. The tips of these blades can reach up to 170 mph and create tornado-like conditions around them.

Yet somehow, the Obama administration claims that allowing wind energy companies to kill the eagles will somehow “further conservation” of the bald and golden eagle.

“The permitting system gives us access to eagles and eagle mortalities that we wouldn’t otherwise have,” an unnamed source told ABC News. “It’s a great mechanism for us to work proactively to prevent eagle deaths.”

"There's a lot of good news in here," Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in an interview, calling the plan "a great tool to work with to further conservation of two iconic species.”

Fish and Wildlife Service claim that the U.S. population of roughly 40,000 golden eagles could endure the loss of about 2,000 birds a year without being pushed toward extinction. And the agency also suggested that bald eagles, estimated to number about 143,000 nationwide, could sustain as many as 4,200 fatalities annually without endangering the species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service tried to push this plan once already in 2013 before a federal judge overturned it, agreeing with conservation groups like the American Bird Conservancy that the plan failed to properly assess the rule change's impact on the federally protected eagle populations.

The Conservancy's Michael Hutchins said a system that relies on industry rather than government regulators to monitor and report problems fails to protect these much-beloved birds of prey.

Can you imagine the reaction of the Obama administration if these eagles were being killed by coal plants? They’d use it to push even harsher regulations on an industry that Obama has already marked for death. So why is the standard so different for a so-called renewable energy source?

Is this just another concession made in an attempt to solidify Obama’s legacy?