Wind farms escape punishment for eagle deaths

Posted: May 17, 2013

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Wind turbine

Under the Obama administration, wind farms have never faced prosecution or fines for the deaths of eagles and other protected bird species.

While the administration has used bird deaths to prosecute oil companies and traditional power companies, wind companies have never faced penalties -- even repeat offenders -- according to an investigation by the Associated Press. The lack of punishment has not only kept the industry from facing liabilities for the deaths but also has kept the number of killed birds a secret.

President Obama has strongly backed wind power, making it part of his energy plan. His administration pushed for a $1 billion annual tax break that doubled the amount of wind energy in his first term.

"It is the rationale that we have to get off of carbon, we have to get off of fossil fuels, that allows them to justify this," environmentalist Tom Dougherty said. "But at what cost? In this case, the cost is too high."

Emails show that at least 26 bird deaths occurred in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington state and Nevada. And wind farms in Wyoming have killed more than four dozen golden eagles since 2009, according to federal officials. Experts say obtaining precise death numbers is difficult because several companies aren't required to disclose the number of birds they kill. Those data also can be unreliable.

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