A national bird conservation organization has formally petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to protect millions of birds from the negative impacts of wind energy by developing regulations that will safeguard wildlife and reward responsible wind energy development.
The nearly 100-page petition, prepared by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Washington, D.C.-based firm Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal, urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to issue regulations establishing a mandatory permitting system for the operation of wind energy projects and mitigation of their impacts on migratory birds.
According to ABC, the proposal would provide legal certainty that wind developers in compliance with a permit would not be subject to criminal or civil penalties for violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The government estimates that a minimum of 440,000 birds are currently killed each year by collisions with wind turbines, ABC notes, adding that wind energy projects are also expected to adversely impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial habitat and another 4,000 square miles of marine habitat.
"ABC is filing this petition because it's clear that the voluntary guidelines the government has drafted will neither protect birds nor give the wind industry the regulatory certainty it has been asking for," says Kelly Fuller, wind campaign coordinator at ABC. "We've had voluntary guidelines since 2003, and yet preventable bird deaths at wind farms keep occurring. This includes thousands of golden eagles that have died at Altamont Pass in California and multiple mass mortality events that have occurred recently in West Virginia."