Tuesday March 11, 2014
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In a plea agreement, a wind company with two large wind farms that serve Casper, Wyoming, has agreed to pay a whopping one million dollar fine.
The 30 story high wind towers, with blades the width of a passenger jet’s wingspan, that reach speeds of 170 miles per hour, and create strong wind vortexes, along with high weather towers, power lines, and other functioning power control facilities, are killing birds.
No many. Just an average of 20 to 3 birds each month, or 32 birds a year for a total of 163 birds in the last five years, 149 of which were hawks, blackbirds, wrens and sparrows.
Trouble is, the other 14 birds were Eagles, which are protected by law. Thats a bit over 2 a year. And while most birds look up to stay safe from predators, eagles don't.
Wind power farms have to be located where there is open land with strong and reliable wind currents year round, and the combination of those wind currents, along with the strong vortex created by the a fast turning blade is not something birds can cope with.
The company has agreed to add radar technology to detect birds and to use field biologists to look for eagles and determine when turbines need to be shut down.
The Question is....
Before asking it, I'll pass along some thoughts for you to consider.
First, if a company can afford a million dollar fine it must be generating a lot of non-polluting power.
Second, how likely is it that anyone will ever develop any kind of technology that can even come close to reacting fast enough to shut down a blade whirling at 170 mph in order to save a bird?
Third, only a very small percentage of our beloved national birds live in an area where wind power can be generated.
Fourth, with the rapid growth of this industry this issue is going to arise again and again.
So The Question Is.....
Given a choice between green power and the rare deaths of a few eagles, however regretful they may be, how will our nation decide?
We the people will want the electricity, the politicians will want to shut down the windtowers to please Greenpeace or whatever they are called and all the rest of the do gooders that want to save the trees, birds, whales and to hell with living people.
I just saw something in passing which touches on this subject. I have to go make Lolly's supper — a labor of love — but I'll be back when I can. Maybe something amazing has happened.
Can you imagine this!
The Obama administration has done something I never thought I would see a Democratic administration do: use common sense when it comes to the balance between our desire to save our wildlife and the need to save our planet, and then come up with a solution that addresses both needs.
Read this report from AP:
"...the Obama administration said Friday it will allow companies to kill or injure eagles without the fear of prosecution for up to three decades."
In other words, since it is impossible to keep birds from flying where and when they want to fly, and since it is also impossible to shield wind-power plants from birds, and since wind power is non-polluting and is something we need a lot more of, the sensible thing to do is to worry about the total number of any animal, not how many there are in any given area. In unavoidable deaths in one area can be balanced out by greater numbers in another area our goal of preserving the species has been accomplished.
Mind you, the Obama administration has not handed the companies a blank check. They will have to report any kills, and the permits are only good for 5 years at a time, which will serve to keep a close check on what's going on.
Inevitably, there will be challenges by people who do not understand, or who do not want to understand, that perfection in any program is unachievable. Nor do they understand that no one is going to invest millions of dollars in a non-polutting wind power company that is going to be unnecessarily harassed, which is the prime reason why we do not yet have as many wind-power companies as we might have.
In truth, bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007, and while it is still necessary to watch their numbers, they are safe. What is going to happen is that we will be gathering badly needed data on the long-term environmental effects of renewable energy projects. Once that data is collected, rational decisions can be made concerning where and how eagle populations can be maintained.
As to the golden eagle, recent numbers show the golden eagle populations are increasing in some areas and decreasing in others. It's too soon to tell what must be done, and where, but whatever we have to do we can do it without ignoring global warming.
It is unknown whether or not this decision will have any effect on the already settled court settlement of the wind power company discussed in the first post. I'll see if I can find out.
Personally, my hat goes off to President Obama for making a logical and necessary decision that take into account both side of an equation which is critical not just to America, but to the entire world.
It was — to use a word rarely used today — a statesmanlike decision.
For the first time in a long time I actually feel represented in Washington. It's a good feeling.
How about you?
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