December 26, 2013

Killing Eagles for Green Energy

Eagles are still federally protected — except when they get in the way of "green energy."

I have been fuming for two weeks, ever since reading that the Obama Administration signed off on letting wind farms kill them (not to mention other birds and bats) for the next thirty years:
Hundreds of thousands of birds die each year flying into the deadly turbine blades atop the soaring towers that compose wind farms. The rule will give wind farms thirty year permits for the “non purposeful take of eagles-that is where the take is associated with but not the purpose of, the activity.’’ The take of eagles is also a euphemism for the slaughter of them. (Video at the link)
Why, it's a "struggle to balance," notes the New York Times:
[The Obama Administration] has increasingly found itself caught between two staunch allies: the wind energy industry and environmental organizations. . . . “A 30-year permit is like a blank check,” said David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, which was involved in months of negotiations on the rule. “It basically says you can go operate these wind turbines and kill as many eagles as happen to die.”
And you can tell whose votes Obama's people take for granted.

Here in Colorado, the Danish wind-turbine firm Vestas threatens layoffs unless they keep getting federal tax breaks, and noted conservationist Senator Mark Udall is all for it, trumpeting how he is all about the tax credits:  "The wind production tax credit supports Made-in-America energy and jobs across Colorado."

I do think the day will come when we have something better than wind-energy— fuel cells the size of air conditioners or something else that generates fairly clean power around the clock and does not fill up thousands of square miles of land with bird-swatters.

Then people will look at wind farms the same way that we look at passenger zeppelins—an interesting technology that failed to work as advertised.


yourcousin said...

Though in fairness you only have to go to Weld county to see the "old" energy paradigm at work with the secession statement from "Northern Colorado" arguing for more fracking. I certainly am one to note and argue against green energy tunnel vision, but it is worth noting that Udall's support for wind energy is not a universally popular and I don't know his reaction to the allowance of slaughtering eagles.

Chas S. Clifton said...

One problem is that the up-and-down output of solar and wind plants means that fossil-fuel-burning power plants must make up the difference.

And since they cannot be turned off and on like a car's engine, they must run all the time, even if at a low output, or so I am given to understand.

I checked Senator Udall's website, but all I saw was the "wind energy is glorious; let's have more Vestas jobs" news release.

yourcousin said...

Well it does stand to reason that there is not "one" answer for our energy consumption. Even Hickenlooper acknowledged an end to growth, though that had to do with water rather than fossil fuels.

Looking at Germany who are light years ahead of us in terms of green energy are running into protests based around large wind farms with the radical elements of the Greens pushing for a far more decentralized renewable energy footprint. This obviously does not fit with our "smart grid" approach which if it could would be swapping energy back and forth all over the country.

The real issue here is that some proponents of green energy think that by driving a prius and slapping up a solar panel on their roof (neither of which are bad in and of themselves) that we can continue to expand ever outward with our exburbs and general consumption at an exponential rate. And then when we see that that just selling power back to the grid isn't saving the planet like we thought it would the next step are massive industrial monstrosities that of course have negative side effects.

The question is not whether or not renewable energies have short comings, but whether or not we dedicate ourselves to dealing with them, unless of course we would like to paraphrase one the great minds of our time and just say, "frack, baby, frack".