Court invalidates 30-year ‘eagle take’ rule

8/12/2015 | 3

Bald Eagle at Maryland's Conowingo Dam. Photo by Brian Kushner

Bald Eagle at Maryland’s Conowingo Dam. Photo by Brian Kushner

The U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, today ruled that the Department of the Interior violated federal laws when it created a final regulation allowing wind energy and some other companies to obtain 30-year permits to kill protected Bald and Golden Eagles without prosecution by the federal government. The court decision invalidates the rule.

American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a plaintiff in the lawsuit, hailed the decision. “We are pleased that the courts agreed with us that improper shortcuts were taken in the development of this rule,” said Michael Hutchins, director of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Program. “The court found that important laws meant to protect our nation’s wildlife were not properly followed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, putting Bald and Golden Eagles at greater risk.”

The court wrote: “… substantial questions are raised as to whether the Final 30-Year Rule may have a significant adverse effect on bald and golden eagle populations.”

In particular, the court cited a lack of compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). “We’re ready to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct the required NEPA analysis and formulate a better system to protect eagles from poorly-sited wind energy projects,” said Hutchins. “We must come up with a better system to assess the potential risks to birds and bats prior to a project’s siting and construction and to track and mitigate project impacts post-construction.”

The previous “eagle take” rule, adopted in 2009, provided for a maximum duration of five years for each permit to kill eagles. A key part of the court’s ruling held that:  “… FWS has failed to show an adequate basis in the record for deciding not to prepare an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) — much less an EA (Environmental Assessment) — prior to increasing the maximum duration for programmatic eagle take permits by sixfold.”

“ … While promoting renewable energy projects may well be a worthy goal,” the ruling continued, “it is no substitute for the [agency’s] obligations to comply with NEPA and to conduct a studied review and response to concerns about the environmental implications of major agency action. … Accordingly, the Court holds that FWS violated NEPA’s procedural requirements and that the Final 30-Year Rule must therefore be set aside and remanded to FWS for further consideration.”

The court cited concerns that had been raised by FWS staff during development of the 30-year eagle rule, stating: “The record [in the case] bolsters the Court’s conclusion, as FWS’s failure to adequately ‘address concerns raised by its own experts’ is cause for the Court to find a NEPA violation.”

ABC filed the lawsuit on June 19, 2014, in federal court against the Department of the Interior, alleging multiple violations of federal law in connection with the December 9, 2013, rulemaking. ABC contended that DOI violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and other statutes.

Study: 573,000 birds died at wind farms in 2012.

Julie Craves explains why so many birds fly into wind-turbine blades.

Precious gold: Wind power and the little-understood eastern Golden Eagle.

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  • rmpbklyn .


    eagle hit


    Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds of up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

    Bob Sallinger with the Audubon Society of Portland said wind farms across the country have killed more than 80 eagles over the last decade.

    “If you have dozens and dozens of them on the landscape it is basically a giant Cuisinart for birds,” said Sallinger. “Bald eagles took decades to recover … we almost lost them because of DDT. Golden eagles are a species biologists are concerned about because they appear to be declining.”–257599781.html

    “Improperly sited and operated wind energy facilities can kill significant numbers of federally protected birds and other species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, urging developers to follow the Service’s Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines. “That’s why it’s imperative that wind energy developers work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize these impacts at every stage in the process.”
    Commercial wind power projects can cause the deaths of federally protected birds in four primary ways: collision with wind turbines, collision with associated meteorological towers, collision with, or electrocution by, associated electrical power facilities, and nest abandonment or behavior avoidance from habitat modification.

    A recent study by federal and state scientists found that U.S. wind turbines could kill up to 1.4 million birds of all species per year by 2030 as the wind energy industry continues to expand.

    “Chokecherry and Sierra Madre, the largest onshore wind farm planned in the United States, would annually kill 10 to 14 golden eagles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service projected in a draft environmental study released Wednesday. That figure represents a substantial reduction from the 46 to 64 golden eagle fatalities estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2012.

  • Jim Wiegand

    For a glimpse at proof of the ongoing scientific fraud,
    taking place with wind energy research look up and read these comments ………….
    Slaughtering Endangered Species with “Clean” and “Green” Energy.

  • Jim Wiegand

    Here is an update on some of the wind industry fraud taking place in the UK.

    The “green” and “clean” wind energy story of Scotland’s eagles also happens to be the same corrupt wind energy story that has taken place in California. Since the late 1990’s I have watched golden eagles disappear from the skies of California while fraudulent
    studies are claiming the opposite. California’s massive golden eagle 80-90%
    decline is from wind energy.

    Recently I became aware of Scotland’s rapid wind energy developments in what was once a fabulous golden eagle population. I have read the Scotland research going back to 1982, and it is very clear this is a rapidly disappearing population. It has not been reported, but easily the biggest killer of Scotland’s golden eagles is wind energy. I say this because wind turbine mortality is so devastating to these eagles. It is also very easy for me to determine the validity of the research, by the information NOT being provided in studies.

    There should be no question in anyone’s minds that Scotland’s eagles are disappearing, here is one example. In a 2014 report, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) found that in Southern Scotland there are no more than 2 to 4 pairs of eagles having limited nesting success. In 1992 there were 68 nesting pairs in this region of Scotland, there were no wind farms, and nesting success was not a factor in this region. Wind farms not only kill adult eagles they also cause nesting failures and habitat abandonment.

    Yet the newly reported eagle population is said to have increased to 508 eagles. This would mean the eagle population to the north and northwest would have had to nearly double in size since 1992. This has not happened. What has happened is that wind energy developments are wiping out your golden eagles, creating habitat abandonment and this destruction will continue as new developments move towards the more isolated populations. It is what happened in CA.

    There is an unmistakable fraud taking place in Scotland because Scotland has only reported a handful of eagles being killed in the last several years by wind turbines. Yet wind turbines have been proven to be the #1 cause of golden eagle mortality when eagles have to share habitat with a wind energy project. ……………….”We recorded 113 deaths over 88 months among a radio-tagged sample of 257 eagles. Fifty-two were attributed to wind turbine blade strikes.”

    The eagle mortality reported in this study is real. An eagle mortality from wind turbines number 4 times higher than any other form of mortality was reported. In addition, of these radio tagged eagles, 21 eagle carcasses were removed from the data under very suspicious circumstances.

    The industry will claim that these were the terrible early turbines, but this is another one of the wind industry lies. All these turbines are all terrible and most of the eagles being slaughtered in America are from the big turbines like those in Scotland. In the first year of operation 38 newly installed larger 1 MW turbines killed at least 4 golden eagles.

    The UK is very much aware of all this, and I have seen nothing but grossly fraudulent studies conducted in Canada as well. But in order to keep their fraudulent green economy going, they lie about it. Instead of being truthful, Scotland has been grossly inflating eagle numbers with bogus eagle population surveys and have set up a special a Lottery Fund allocated to translocate eagles into the areas of golden eagle habitat abandonment. Ireland is also getting some eagle transplants but all this is primarily a diversionary dog and pony show from the fraudsters, while this population continues to be annihilated
    by turbines.

    The truth is that across the world eagle carcasses have been hidden for decades and the industry has reported very few of them over the years. Since 1997 over 35,000 eagle carcasses have been secretly shipped to America’s Denver Eagle repository and their origin is an Interior Department top secret. Yet in the years leading up to 1997, when US installed turbine capacity was only 2200 MW’s and before USFWS agents were silenced, the USFWS admitted that wind turbines were one of the primary killers of eagles. Now
    after lying by omission for decades, this industry along with our corrupt Interior Department created fraudulent research inflating eagle populations and have given themselves permission to kill thousands each year. In Dec.2016 a new rule was passed in America allowing “industry” to kill 7518 bald eagles annually.

    Today Scotland has nearly 3 times this old 1997 amount of installed wind energy. Pretending these turbines are not having a devastating impact on your eagles is not only fraud, it is impossible.

    As an independent researcher and eagle expert, I have found wind energy is an industry that feeds off of lies, scientific fraud and bad character. Also when one considers that at least 90% of wind turbine mortality is hidden and when MW hours per energy source are considered, wind energy is at least 500 times more deadly than with any other energy source for raptors.

    As for any claims of 508 golden eagle pairs existing in Scotland, this is a complete lie. If Scotland is lucky they might have 150-200 pairs left and your turbines are killing at least one eagle a week.