By Robert Bradley Jr. — April 18, 2022
“ESI further acknowledged that at least 150 bald and golden eagles have died in total since 2012, across 50 of its 154 wind energy facilities. 136 of those deaths have been affirmatively determined to be attributable to the eagle being struck by a wind turbine blade.” (Justice Department, April 5, 2022)
For decades, the American Wind Energy Association (now part of the American Clean Power Association) has dismissed the “avian mortality problem” as little different than everyday deaths of birds from cats and windows. The Sierra Club echoes this argument in ground-zero wind growth states such as Michigan.
There are two problems with this argument. First, millions of deaths annually from wind blades is that amount too many given that wind power is uneconomic and unnecessary. Taxpayers and birds can be spared with a gain in resource efficiency. (And imagine if an oil, gas, or coal company tried to make that argument ….)
Second, it is an open secret was that golden eagles are the particular victims of industrial wind, which inspired a Sierra Club official to dub the technology the “Cuisinarts of the Air.” Six months ago, the National Audubon Society sued Alameda County for permitting an 80-MW wind project near San Francisco on these grounds:
Alameda County approved a poorly planned project that they know will kill Golden Eagles and other birds in violation of state and federal laws and that will contribute to the continuing declines of Golden Eagles and other sensitive species….
[This] area is also home to the largest wind resource area in the United States, where 5000 turbines were built over a 56-square-mile area in the early 1980s without any environmental mitigation. For decades, the Altamont Pass has killed so many Golden Eagles that it is a ‘population sink’ for the species and is contributing to its overall decline in the region.
The avian mortality story has been long chronicled at MasterResource by Jim Weigand (and others) in such posts as:
Bald Eagle ‘Takings’: Biden’s Interior Department Protects Big Wind (Jim Wiegand: March 2, 2022)
AWEA’s Eagle Mortality Defense: A Response (Jim Wiegand: August 31, 2015)
Australian Avian Mortality: The Cover-Up (Mark Duchamp: June 4, 2015)
Hiding “Avian Mortality”: Where ‘Green’ is Red (Part I: Altamont Pass) (Jim Wiegand: September 4, 2013)
Hiding Avian Mortality: Where ‘Green’ is Red (Part II: Wolfe Island) (Jim Wiegand: September 13, 2013)
Big Wind & Avian Mortality (Part I: Problem Identification) (Jim Wiegand: March 14, 2013)
Big Wind & Avian Mortality (Part II: Hiding the Problem) (Jim Wiegand: March 15, 2013)
Shame on Big Wind for the open carnage behind a green facade. Shame on Big Environmental for the green pass. And this avian mortality is joined by wind turbines’ negative health effects on nearly residents, as well as the energy sprawl of service roads and long-line transmission–again, all unnecessary.
And thus the joke:
“When is an environmentalist not an environmentalist? … When it comes to windpower.”
Here is the U.S. Department of Justice Press Release (April 5, 2022), fingering NextEra Energy Resources, self-described as “a diversified clean energy company.”
ESI Energy LLC, Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Nextera Energy Resources LLC, is Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Killing and Wounding Eagles in Its Wind Energy Operations, in Violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
ESI Energy Inc. (ESI) was sentenced today in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), announced Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney L. Robert Murray for the District of Wyoming.
ESI is a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC, which in turn is a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. ESI owns other companies, many of which operate wind energy generation facilities throughout the United States, including in Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, North Dakota and Michigan, as well as other states.
ESI pled guilty to three counts of violating the MBTA, each based on the documented deaths of golden eagles due to blunt force trauma from being struck by a wind turbine blade at a particular facility in Wyoming or New Mexico, where ESI had not applied for the necessary permits.
ESI further acknowledged that at least 150 bald and golden eagles have died in total since 2012, across 50 of its 154 wind energy facilities. 136 of those deaths have been affirmatively determined to be attributable to the eagle being struck by a wind turbine blade.
The court sentenced ESI, pursuant to a plea agreement, to a fine of $1,861,600, restitution in the amount of $6,210,991, and a five-year period of probation during which it must follow an Eagle Management Plan (EMP). The EMP requires implementation of up to $27 million (during the period of probation; more thereafter if a written extension is signed) of measures intended to minimize additional eagle deaths and injuries, and payment of compensatory mitigation for future eagle deaths and injuries of $29,623 per bald or golden eagle.
ESI also must over the next 36 months apply for permits for any unavoidable take of eagles at each of 50 of its facilities where take is documented or, in the case of four facilities not yet operational, predicted.
“The Justice Department will enforce the nation’s wildlife laws to promote Congress’s purposes, including ensuring sustainable populations of bald and golden eagles, and to promote fair competition for companies that comply,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “For more than a decade, ESI has violated those laws, taking eagles without obtaining or even seeking the necessary permit. We are pleased to see ESI now commit to seeking such permits and ultimately ceasing such violations.”
“Wyoming is graced with abundant natural resources – including both eagles and strong winds,” said U.S. Attorney L. Robert Murray for the District of Wyoming. “The sentencing today shows our commitment to both maintaining and making sustainable use of our resources. It also ensures a level playing field for business in Wyoming and ensures those receiving federal tax credits are complying with federal law.”
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has a long history of working closely with the wind power industry to identify best practices in avoiding and minimizing the impacts of land-based wind energy facilities on wildlife, including eagles,” said Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the USFWS’ Office of Law Enforcement. “This agreement holds ESI and its affiliates accountable for years of unwillingness to work cooperatively with the Service and their blatant disregard of wildlife laws, and finally marks a path forward for the benefit of eagles and other wildlife resources entrusted to the Service’s stewardship.”
“This prosecution and the restitution it secures will protect the ecologically vital and majestic natural resources of our bald eagle and golden eagle populations,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California. “California has been awarded more than $4.6 million in restitution under this plea agreement for the deaths of at least 92 eagles within the state caused by the defendant and affiliated companies.”
The MBTA prohibits the “taking” of migratory birds, including bald and golden eagles, without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior. “Take” is defined by regulation to mean “to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect” or to attempt to do so.
Bald and golden eagles are also protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (the Eagle Act) which, like the MBTA, prohibits killing and wounding eagles without a permit from USFWS. USFWS is authorized to issue such eagle take permits (ETPs) only where: (1) the predicted take is compatible with the preservation of bald and golden eagles; (2) it is necessary to protect an interest in a particular locality; (3) the take is associated with, but not the purpose of, the activity; and (4) the take could not practicably be avoided. Permit applicants are required to avoid and minimize take to the maximum extent practicable, and to pay compensatory mitigation for unavoidable takes.
According to documents filed in court, it is the government’s position that ESI’s conduct violated both the Eagle Act and the MBTA, but the government accepted the company’s guilty plea to only MBTA counts due in large part to ESI’s agreement to apply for permits at 50 facilities and its prior efforts to minimize and mitigate for eagle fatalities.
ESI’s and its affiliated companies’ actions in Wyoming and New Mexico were taken under an admitted nationwide posture and alleged corporate policy of not applying for ETPs.
According to the information filed in this case:
- ESI and its affiliates deliberately elected not to apply for or obtain any ETP intended to ensure the preservation of bald and golden eagles, and instead chose to construct and operate facilities it knew would take eagles, and in fact took eagles, without any permits authorizing that take.
- Because ESI did not seek any ETPs, it avoided any immediate federal obligation to avoid and minimize eagle take to the maximum degree practicable and to pay for compensatory mitigation for the eagle deaths.
- Because some other wind energy companies (1) altered proposed operations as required to avoid and minimize take levels to the maximum degree practicable, (2) applied for ETPs, (3) obtained ETPs that in some cases were impacted by take levels caused by ESI’s unpermitted facilities, and/or (4) paid mitigation for eagle takings, ESI, by not doing these things, gained a competitive advantage relative to those wind energy companies.
- ESI and its affiliates began commercial operations at new facilities on a schedule intended to meet, among other things, power purchase agreement commitments and qualifying deadlines for particular tax credit rates for renewable energy, and with production amounts not impacted by avoidance and minimization measures that might have been required under an eagle take permit. ESI and its affiliates received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits for generating electricity from wind power at facilities that it operated, knowing that multiple eagles would be killed and wounded without legal authorization, and without, in most instances, paying restitution or compensatory mitigation….
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. The prosecutions were handled by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division with assistance from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Eastern District of California, the District of Wyoming and the Northern District of California.
The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club states, “Wind turbines can be removed when something better comes along.” To which true environmentalists can add: we can’t wait that long.
So ESI and other turbine operators pay million in fines which then becomes an operating expense which rises the cost of energy. So in essence the customers (us) gets to pay for the dead eagles
The renewable blight of laundered, redistributive intermittents, disposables, occupying Green gauntlets and other ecological hazard are first-order forcing of [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] climate change.
Biden struck down Keystone with a mere executive order, despite all of the investments and prior permits.
The short-term loss of oil production is painful, but the biggest problem is that his action creates HUGE investment risk for large infrastructure projects.
Now assume the next Republican President becomes equally feckless and partisan – and issues an executive order for all windmills that feed electricity into any intra-state grid to cease and desist production to protect our bird populations.
As soon as it becomes apparent that no windmills will be allowed to turn for the next 4 years (or 8 years), investment in windmills will go to zero.
This is not a viable way to run a large, complicated economy and country.
Yeah the investment would have to be diverted into productive sectors.
Good, collapsing the renewable lie will lead the real energy production.
Which Republican President was going to tear down all Wind Turbines? I need to vote for them.
Bird choppers are weather dependent, anyway, and interfere with the finance of their required backups.
Chartreus folk 50yrs ago had us believing our logging, mining, heavy industry, farming, O&G….had pushed these large birds to the edge of extinction. In the last 50yrs, we’ve tripled population and expanded these industries maybe 5-fold, yet there are eagles species abundant enough today that we can issue kill permits for thousands a year! They don’t allow you into chartreuse field if you are from Missouri!
Is there really anything or anyplace, except the liqueur, called chartreuse? What color is it, them, or whatever? Does it, them, or whatever, have any relationship to eagles, wind power, special privileges, rent seeking, or a conspiracy to take over the country?
Grande Chartreuse monastery named after the mountain range in the French Southern Alps. The monks distill the alcohol and make the Liqueur using flowers and herbs to flavor it.
Ok, so you are still talking, at least indirectly, about the liqueur. You are saying the manufacturers thereof expressed the belief that human industry in general is widely fatal to eagles. Why eagles in particular? Did these people believe they had some special relationship to eagles? There seems little commonality between destructiveness from wind turbines and the destruction from automobiles, to pick one example.
Chartreuse (the colour) comes from it’s resemblance to Green Chartreuse (liqueur), which is named for the Grande Chartreuse Monastery where it was first made, so named because it is located in the Chartreuse Mountains in France. Does that help?
Not to identify ESI or any other wind energy company, but, based on my personal observations, they knew of the problem and tried to cover it up. While setting up an insitu leach uranium project NE of Casper, Wyoming, I was denied access to public lands by a locked gate in a fence along the side of the windmills. Since the windmill company suggested our lawyer was welcome to initiate legal action to maybe gain access, I decided a more direct action would work and in a much shorter time frame. Accordingly, at first light I drove to the fence, crawled under it, and walked to the line of windmills. The carnage was immediately visible, including a dead golden eagle. As I walked north along the windmills, taking photos, a pickup arrived. By this time, maybe 7;00 am, THE TWO WORKERS PARKED UNDERNEATH EACH WINDMILL AND WALKED AROUND PICKING UP DEAD BIRDS, THROWING THEM IN THE BACK OF THE PICKUP, AND DRIVING TO THE NEXT WINDMILL. I HAVE PREVIOUSLY REFERRED TO THESE WORKERS AS THE “CLEAN-UP CREW. This particular crew had no other obvious function, ergo, the company was engaged in what appeared to be a cover-up.
Ron, did you send your evidence to any Federal, State or local agency? Media outlets? NGOs?
I should have, but our legal review said there probably not going to be any action against. I made multiple copies of photos, copies of an explanatory report, put them in stamped letters to Audobon Society, Wyoming Fish and Game, and the President of the company. In a meeting I offered them two options, give me a key to the gate and start studying the bird problem, or the reports go into the mail. They gave me the key. I was surprised by our legal review saying chopping up birds is probably not going to be a legal problem for the windmill owners.
Thanks for the information, Ron. The legal fix is in, but it appears grassroots opposition to big wind is growing. Who knows, maybe environmentalists will get back to the environment here and now, not some future model speculations.
There is some kind of bird flu causing farmers to eliminate chickens and turkeys…and apparently can affect eagles too.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1. Probably started in migrating waterfowl earlier this spring. Will kill most of an entire flock once infection sets in, so once detected the entire flock must be culled to prevent spread. Some of these infected poultry farms, that is millions of birds each. Definitely affecting the market price of chicken and eggs. And yes, kills infected cormorants (Illinois lake) and eagles. Worst US outbreak since about 2015. Will hopefully abate once the spring waterfowl migration is over in about another month.
Is not transmissible to humans except under extreme circumstances. No worry there even tho that probably disappoints Fauci now that COVID-19 is winding down.
Fauci, Collins and Daszak will soon change that, with ample funding from the NDIS.
As I understand it, the U.S. funded biolabs in Ukraine are *ahem* a little too preoccupied right now to work on the bird flu to human problem right now.
We’ll just have to be patient until our Overlords can get back to work on killing all of us useless eaters**.
**Useless eaters being defined as unwilling to become serfs to fulfill their dystopian fantasies.
Mr. R.: The U.S. funded lab in Wuhan has space available right behind the wet market.
And to any Overlords looking in- please kill H.R. first?? /s/
along with the Wuhan lab
There is something fishy about this “Bird Flu”
Oh, I expect the Venn diagram of death causes from this new-fangled bird ‘flu will very neatly overlap those alleged adverse reactions caused by the Covid-inoculations…
Transmissibility can change with a single mutation, and its likely to occur if infected bird populations come in close contact with dense human populations. The usual place for this is in China, but it could occur on a U.S. farm as well.
Luckily, eagles are fairly solitary in nature – not so much the chickens.
“Re: … until something better comes along.”
That “something” is HERE and is efficient and effective:
(I gave an otherwise “5” article a 4 due to the uninformed, inaccurate, “Conclusion”)
Oh, Engineer Jim, thank you. 😊
The statement was made by a Sierra Club rep., not the author.
My point addresses the author’s uninformed, inaccurate, statement in his “Conclusion”:
“we can’t wait that long [until a viable alternative to wind shows up].”
I was trying to say (and obviously failed to say it well enough) that there is no need to wait at all.
“The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club states, “Wind turbines can be removed when something better comes along.” To which true environmentalists can add: we can’t wait that long.”
Perhaps he should have said “conservationist”? I think his point was the same as yours. I think he was addressing the Sierra Club’s statement about waiting to stop the carnage.
I think both you and Robert Bradley Jr. would agree that:
“The Green Dream” is a nightmare that is killing things now. Time to wake up!”
Hi, Gung-ho, NO, phone (grr), Gung-ho Donn, NO, PHONE, NO,
Gunga Din! 🙂
Good to hear from you.
Perhaps, the author MEANT to say what you believe he said. The plain meaning of the words he used is that he is “add”[ing] to the previous statement about waiting for a viable alternative to wind
No wait needed.
Good for you to try to help the author out. If you guessed his intended meaning correctly, then, yes, we essentially agree.
In that case, he still gets a 4 for B (versus “A”) writing.
I still remember how kind you were to ME, c. 2014, when I needed a friend to stand by me on WUWT as various meanies mischaracterized (or did worse things) my comments.
Thank you, once again.
Glad to have been a help.
We all need The Paraclete.
The only renewable energy sources on the planet!
The settlement included about $8 million in fines and restitution. It was noted that ESI “… received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits …” plus God only knows how much more in subsidies, premium payments & etc. Sound like a fair deal to you?
too big to be allowed to fail
Which is, if you are correct, an absolutely unacceptable excuse, not a justification.
The wind and solar and EV scams are simply: WRONG.
If I understand this correctly, the government is not really concerned that ESI killed 150 bald and golden eagles, they are concerned that ESI failed to get a permit to kill 150 bald and golden eagles.
Was there once some theory about equal protection under the law?
It helps if you have the pull to determine what goes into the law.
I like the new definition of killing: take. It is a hallmark of socialists and communists to employ more innocuous words to hide their true behavior.
“Take” is the term that describes the catch
Meaning they are designed to kill raptors
Rotary Raptor Harvester
“On the take” is a true description of our politicians and bureaucrats.
Why are they allowed to take even one eagle?
If I do it’s off to jail for me
House cats obviously don’t kill raptors, and nothing else much does either, except poison. Or wind mills. Wind mills are poison on so many levels other than killing raptors. Like the junk asynchronous intermittent electricity they provide. They should be illegal.
But something better has been here all along. So why the windmills?
On the bright side, the ‘tell’ is that Sierra C is unhappy with windmills and so are other orgs changing their minds. Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans, in one stroke, pole axed the “bio-mass” ruinable (chopping down forests for ‘clean’ fuel to save the planet) with his clip of a messy clearcut in Vermont, and being chased off the property by a foreman. It also literally ended Bill Mckibben’s career on the spot when he stuttered on film a confused defence of biomass.
Okay, but solar panels are OK, huh?
Nope. Even German and Chinese panel makers say they are troubled about the making, installing and landfill disposal according to an article in Forbes by born-again environmentalist Michael Shellenberger who escaped from the Dark Side. Some of the chemicals/heavy metals used and produced in manufacture and later leaching include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide, copper indium gallium (di)selenide, hexafluoroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride. Additionally, silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of producing crystalline silicon, is highly toxic.
All of this toxic cocktail is left out of spiels by panel salesmen and Darkside promoters who tell you what the 4 main ingredients are: glass, silicon, plastic and support frames. This deliberate lie by omission has been getting exposed. And all the too good to be true chestnut pops up again.
Burning stuff for energy’s CO² turns out to be the cleanest as well as the cheapest and the waste emitted is Greening the Planet, reclaiming arid lands, reducing water demand by plants and stimulating plankton in the sea which is the base of the food chain for larger ocean dwellers.
Oh, and the population of tigers in the Ganges delta has increased 10% in the last few years in the new lush upgrade to the forest, reversing what appeared to be a complete decline. On the Indian side, tiger pop is up 28% in the last few years.
Bald Eagle Lives Matter.
Or, apparently, each bald eagle is worth $29,623. Is that money paid to the spouse of the dead eagle?
This is ridiculous. Kill a bald eagle, go to jail: https://abcnews.go.com/US/virginia-man-pleads-guilty-killing-bald-eagle-shooting/story?id=48573099
But, if you kill one with a wind turbine, all you need is a permit and $30K.
Go to Washington, DC. Is it easier to get a permit to kill a Bald Eagle or to carry a pistol?
But what if you say you are going to use the pistol to kill lots of Bald Eagles?
We live in wind turbine country, along the Columbia River. I do not, not, not like them. I consider them blights on the Western landscapes that I love so much. Something else about this area is that it’s Raptor Central. You name it, I’ve probably seen it flying around.
I have been inside the fences of some wind farms. Which (again), I do not, not, not like. But I haven’t seen any dead birds. Therefore, I am skeptical of wind turbines as bird killers. Worst case, evolution would kick in and the next generations would avoid them, just as the moths of England turned from black to white when they switched from coal to natural gas for heating.
I’d love to brand these monstrosities as raptor killers, but I need more evidence. If wind turbines are eagle killers, I think I’d know.
Here’s one case:
Jake J, If you doubt that wind turbines kill eagles, perhaps you should read this link.
Just an observation Jake.Did the clean up crews get there ahead of you.Or maybe the windmills had been windless for a time.
Well, since they are killing raptors by the thousands your defense of them killing raptors by the thousands is duly noted.
Oh, and each time I have been under any windmills there were all manner of dead birds on the ground.
Jake, try visiting before the Sonderkommandos police up the area.
They are bat killers as well, even more so than bird killers. Unfortunately, a lot of West Texas is perfect for wind turbines and bat colonies.
As for evolution changing the behavior in a single generation – that doesn’t happen. You are likely referring to selection whereby some present behavior is favorable to the species propagating over another present behavior. After many generations you can see a shift in normal behavior. This did not require a new mutation – it only required selecting one already present in the population.
After many generations you might get a mutation that further moves the behavior towards survival and selection further acts upon it, so the mutation is spread across the population…now you have evolution in action.
Selection can happen quickly in a few generations, whereas evolution typically takes much longer over many generations.
Funny… You can set up an industry that mass-murders a species to extintion IF you pay the fines…
The fines, of course (/sarc) are established by calculating the VALUE of said species. This is the conciliatory system to erase the alleged conflict between economic development and nature conservation: a question of MONEY. A wise policy, as it is endorsed by the greens of every color.
As I frequently observed while dealing with Native American jurisdictions: Money solves all problems.
Since we cannot paste graphics…
Is this another kitty about to die?
2c4ilx.jpg (1039×720) (imgflip.com)
It just shows that kitties also like porn.
So, as long as you pay off the leftarded politicians you can kill whatever you want. Got it.
Planned avianhood. That said, whatever and whoever.
Whenever the green zealots start the “windows kill thousands of birds each year” speech I just ask them to get back to me when they’ve found a workable alternative to windows.
For someone reason, I never get a reply….
As usual if the project benefits the left, the environmental laws don’t apply. Because their ideas are so important, it is OK to ignore little details like killing birds.
“… knowing that multiple eagles would be killed and wounded …”
The words “wounded” and “injured” call up two different mental images.
Written by someone who failed ‘bone-head’ English?
Maybe they are referring to all the eagles whose hearts just stopped right before they were batted out of the air?
that’s an average of 3 every 10 years…