PROTECTIONS FOR THE BIRDS
Government unveils voluntary guidelines to avoid bird deaths at wind farms
Frederic J. Frommer, February 8, 2011 (AP via Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
"The Fish and Wildlife Service…[has] proposed voluntary guidelines for onshore wind energy developers to avoid bird deaths and other harm to wildlife as part of the Obama administration's big push for renewable and clean energy…President Barack Obama has called for the nation to get 80 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035, and renewable sources are expected to play a key role in that effort.
"The [Interior]department is seeking public comment for its proposed guidelines, which…call for wind developers to eliminate from consideration areas that would pose high risk to animals and habitat, and to take steps to mitigate harm by, for example, restoring habitat nearby…The agency is also proposing new voluntary guidance aimed at preventing deaths of bald and golden eagles."
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"The American Bird Conservancy said that the wind industry's goal of providing 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2030 would lead to a million bird deaths a year or more. The group took out print and online advertisements in political publications this eek…asking people to sign a petition calling for mandatory standards…[T]he bird group argues that the wind industry is in a unique position because it's at the beginning of a nationwide build-out and can still take steps to minimize bird impacts]…
"John M. Anderson, director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association, said that every form of energy, communication and transportation has an impact on wildlife…[T]he wind industry has a long history of collaborating with conservation groups to find ways to reduce bird deaths, and…wind energy displaces emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for global warming, which has been identified as a big threat to wildlife, including birds."
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"A 2005 Forest Service report estimated that 500 million to possibly more than 1 billion birds are killed in the U.S. every year in collisions with manmade structures such as vehicles, buildings, power lines, telecommunication towers and wind turbines. The report estimated that 550 million are killed by buildings and 130 million by power lines, while only 28,000 are killed by wind turbines; a 2009 report by Fish and Wildlife scientist put the figure at 440,000 annual bird deaths by wind turbines.
"Last year, a second 'State of the Birds' report from the Interior Department found that global climate change poses a significant threat to migratory bird populations. The previous year, the first such report, also released by the Interior secretary, found that all types of energy production — such as wind, ethanol and mountaintop coal mining — were contributing to steep drops in bird populations."