Whenever it comes to light, the hypocrisy of some environmental-related government decisions is mind boggling. Even worse is when green lobby groups fall into ideologically driven silence on such decisions. The latest environmental absurdity is the decision of the US government to finalize a rule that will allow wind energy companies to kill and injure thousands of federally-protected bald and golden eagles. It gets worse, the Obama administration states that the new rule will actually conserve the eagles – it noted the increased production of pollution-free energy to save the planet is a priority. The new rule increases the number that can be killed or injured by four times from previous limits – somehow in the green-numbed bureaucratic mind, killing more is a conservation measure. The silence from the green lobby industry has been deafening.
This type of mentality shows how far green ideology can be twisted when even that most iconic symbol of the USA, the bald eagle, can be sacrificed at the altar of green political correctness. The US government tried to dodge the issue for many years, sort of pretending it didn’t really happen. But then lawsuits were being threatened against the wind turbine killing machines. It seems that eagles are protected under specific American federal legislation and those responsible for their death and injury could be held liable. That could have seen an awkward situation whereby the US government would be required to sue one of their sacred cows – the renewable energy business – hence the killing exemption.
The only benefit in the new ruling is a provision that independent third party contractors will be engaged to gather data on the numbers of birds being killed by wind turbines. Previously energy companies submitted that information, one can’t help but suspect that the reported numbers will increase dramatically. Much will depend on how tightly those companies will control access to wind turbine sites. It must be unfettered and without advance notice to land owners to be credible data.
Here’s why – in another life your humble writer tried to get access to wind farms in southern Alberta to ascertain the extent of bird and bat deaths from windmill collisions. Such access was denied in every case, which confirmed my suspicion that the situation was probably very serious and such damming information was not going to be welcomed by the wind energy industry. I expect land owners were instructed not to cooperate unless required by law. It’s hard to determine if the Alberta government has specific information on the number of bird and bat deaths caused by windmills. If they did I expect it is less than robust and not likely to be willingly published by a government that is so ideologically-committed to renewable energy. God Forbid anything tarnish such political correctness. I guess thousands of dead bats, birds and eagles is a small price to pay. One notes some anecdotal reports from local residents near windmill sites who mention that the population of fat coyotes and other carrion scavengers increased wherever windmills were built. That may explain why windmill companies claim there is little evidence of bird and bat deaths on their sites. How convenient.
All of this causes one to ponder that in the not too distant past a couple of dozen ducks died after landing on an oilsands tailing pond. Extremist lobby groups like Greenpeace launched a worldwide campaign against the oilsands featuring those unfortunate duck deaths. Governments laid heavy fines against the energy companies and required draconian changes to duck landing avoidance measures. Yet to date thousands upon thousands of bird and bat deaths from wind turbines get no response from those same lobby groups nor from our so-called caring governments. The hypocrisy of it all. One also recalls the past Redford government cancelling the development of 10,000 acres of rangeland into irrigated acres because of the loss of habitat for the local bird life. I suspect many of those birds could have been killed by nearby windmills.
Its wishful thinking, but one hopes that our government would make honest evaluations of the environmental impact of the ever-expanding windmill business. We see governments demanding costly and lengthy environmental studies of pipelines, but the same rigour does not seem to be required of renewable energy projects – why the double standard. The Saskatchewan government is beginning to require windmill environmental and financial impact studies – which has seen some projects turned down. I expect such true due diligence will be avoided by the Alberta government.