National News

Is the environmental cost of wind power rising?


For some time now, questions have been raised about the contradiction within in the green energy movement when it comes to wind power. Wind power is seen by some as one of the answers to our dependence on foreign oil but when it comes to environmental impact–specifically regarding the death of eagles and other protected birds–there has been a double standard. Now, that may be changing.

The Christian Science Monitor posted Why wind farms kill eagles with federal impunity back in May 2013.

“Oil companies are prosecuted when a bird drowns in a waste pit. But the Obama administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company for similar protected bird deaths. An estimated 573,000 birds are killed by US wind farms each year.”

“The large death toll at wind farms shows how the renewable energy rush comes with its own environmental consequences, trade-offs the Obama administration is willing to make in the name of cleaner energy.

“‘It is the rationale that we have to get off of carbon, we have to get off of fossil fuels, that allows them to justify this,’ said Tom Dougherty, a long-time environmentalist who worked for nearly 20 years for the National Wildlife Federation in the West, until his retirement in 2008. ‘But at what cost? In this case, the cost is too high.’

“The Obama administration has refused to accept that cost when the fossil-fuel industry is to blame. The BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.”

Now it seems as though the the double standard may be changing

Duke Energy to pay $1M to Feds for eagles killed at wind farms

“For the first time, the Obama administration is taking action against wind farms for killing eagles.

“In a settlement announced Friday, Duke Energy will pay $1 million for killing 14 golden eagles over the past three years at two Wyoming wind farms. The company says it pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“The case is a first to be prosecuted under that law for a wind company by the Obama administration, which has been a champion of pollution-free wind power.”

Given that Martin O’Malley is hell bent on building offshore wind farms how might this affect our state? How much of the bird-kill costs will fall to Maryland taxpayers and consumers?

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