Wind farms can seek up to 30-year permits to kill bald and golden eagles without any penalties thanks to a federal administrative change announced last week, a decision that's upsetting conservation groups, the Associated Press said.
Wind energy farms have violated federal law by killing as many as 67 eagles in the last five years, The Associated Press reported
. But no wind energy companies applied for one of the five-year permits available that would allow them to kill, harm or harass eagles, the AP said.
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The industry asked the Obama administration to change regulations, and the announced rule would offer legal protection to wind farms and other industries if companies get a permit and also takes steps to not kill the birds, the AP said. The current permits for five years aren’t extensive enough to help long-term projects be successful, the industry has said.
Conservation groups, generally supporters of wind energy, are up in arms about the new regulation, which didn’t require review because it is billed as an administrative change, the AP said.
Calling it a “stunningly bad move for eagles,” National Audubon Society President David Yarnold said in a statement, “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check. It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the Bald Eagle.”
The group said it would challenge the decision.
Conservation groups aren’t standing alone in their anger over the new rule.
“Permits to kill eagles just seem unpatriotic, and 30 years is a long time for some of these projects to accrue a high death rate,” Republican Sen. David Vitter told Politico
The American Wind Energy Association contends that only about 2 percent of “human-caused” bald eagle deaths are caused by turbines, Politico said.
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