New Energy vs. the Birds

New Energy vs. the Birds

“You should be careful what you ask for, you just might get it” is an oft-used proverb to describe the principle of unintended consequences and that’s a principle currently visiting America’s left-leaning ‘green movement.’ For years this small but vocal corner of the population has been demonizing ‘big oil’, calling for an end to use of fossil fuels and a wholesale switch to renewable fuels, namely wind and solar. Greenies were elated when one of their own, Barack Obama, was twice elected to the Oval Office and with his full-fledged commitments to crush the coal industry, drive up the costs of petroleum-based energy sources and spend hundreds of billions on the development of alternative fuel sources.

Obama is fulfilling his 2008 promise to bankrupt coal power plant operators and introduce policies that would make American household’s electricity costs “skyrocket.” None of these measures could be passed through Congress so they’re being implemented via federal agencies like the EPA and BLM and/or through executive order. So damaging are Obama’s actions that on May 5th several state attorneys general testified before a Senate panel that the latest Obama EPA proposals will have a “devastating impact” on their states.

Undeterred, Obama utilized his obligation to deliver the commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut just last week to reiterate his views that the spread of radical jihad is not the greatest threat to the world today, its global climate change.

While doing all in his power to fulfill promises to bankrupt or otherwise destroy fossil fuel providers Obama is at the same time hitting the gas (pun intended) on spending taxpayer money to develop alternative power source. Seems you can’t drive anywhere on America’s highway system without seeing trucks with “OVERSIZED LOAD” banners carrying giant wind turbine blades or freight train boxcars carrying the same. Particularly here in the western states. (I live in Colorado.) The Obama administration’s aggressive use of taxpayer dollars to hyper-drive the renewable energies industry has resulted in major cash windfall (another pun) for companies in this sector. Multi-million dollar debacles like Solyndra have been well documented. Watchdog groups have erected websites devoted to monitoring the public flushing of funds down the green bankruptcy drain.

But beyond the howling of fiscal conservatives wanting to know where all money has gone the ‘green movement’ is coming under attack from a most unexpected source – the ‘green movement.’ Seems the pursuit of green utopia is coming at a steep price to some of the planet’s birds.

Unforeseen until this massive expansion of production capability we are now discovering that acres and acres of solar and/or wind power production fields are either incinerating or bludgeoning birds to death in mid-flight. And the greenies who want alternative fuels now are hopping made with those who want to protect wildlife. Problem is they’re the same people.

America’s green-energy movement has a lot of crossover members with the “save the whales, birds and field mice” crowd. For the most part those who hate big oil, love solar and wind, and scream the need to protect all forms of wildlife tend to be under the same political tent. They now find themselves facing conflict over the effects of both wind and solar farms on America’s birds.

ExtremeTech.com reported on California’s new solar power plant claiming it is “actually a death ray that’s incinerating birds mid-flight.” So noteworthy is the death and destruction that NBC actually ran a report on its “Today Show” highlighting what ground engineers at one such plant call “streamers” – birds catching fire and leaving a stream of smoke behind as they plummet to the ground dead. Websites and news sources reporting similar phenomena of birds being microwaved in midair pepper the internet. Wind farms are no better.

Last week the bird advocacy group American Bird Conservancy released an analysis claiming that guidelines published by the Department of Fish and Wildlife are not sufficient for protecting birds, that too many birds are being killed, and it’s time to roll out some new, tougher regulations. Many of the affected birds are some of America’s most majestic, including eagles, hawks, falcons, and other birds of prey. The report claims that more than 30,000 turbines have been installed nationwide and 50,000 others are planned in areas where birds are particularly vulnerable to fatal collisions.

(One might wonder how a bird can be stuck by a turbine blade while flying. Birds of prey are much like texting drivers, looking one way, moving another. Hawks and eagles are not looking where they’re going while flying — there’s [typically] nothing in the sky for them to collide with — they’re looking down for movement or anything else that could possibly classify as “lunch.”)

In 2013 the federal government for the first time enforced environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities, winning a $1 million settlement from Duke Energy when the company pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at its wind farms.

Knowing full well how vicious the green left can be, the wind power industry would just as soon keep quiet about the issue of birds being killed by windmills. In 2014, PacificCorp, which operates 13 wind farms, actually sued the federal government to stop the release of bird death data. Pacificorp of Portland, Oregon sought an injunction in U.S. District Court to prevent the Interior Department from releasing information sought under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act claiming the information was confidential. In December of the same year PacificCorp entered a guilty plea and agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine to settle charges directly connected to the deaths of birds at its wind farms.

That birds are dying at the hands of these ‘new energy’ sources is documented and undeniable. That raises the new set of questions concerning what, if anything, to do about it that in turn leads back to the principle of unintended consequences.

The feds are eyeing several measures which may help decrease the number of accidental bird deaths such as “screamers”, including noisemakers on the tips of the rotary blades which whistle as air passes through them, L.E.D. lights which make the structures and blades more visible at night, and also erecting audible barriers not unlike the invisible fences used to keep dogs in a confined area to help prevent birds from flying into solar farms.

No matter what solutions are ultimately settled on this much is certain: liberals ‘solving’ the problems liberals have created will result in more laws, more rules, more regulations, and more restrictions on businesses which in turn results in federal agencies having more power, more duties of enforcement and therefore ever-swelling budgets. Costs to operate will go up for the energy producers. Costs to regulate the producers will go up for the government. And the tab for all of these increased costs will ultimately come to rest on the shoulders of the consumer and taxpayer.

Intended – more abundant clean energy for all. Unintended – higher costs for all. Solution? Simple. Only operate solar farms at night.

 

1 Comment

  1. Many of the species in the park are unique to mountainous habitats – aspen, ponderosa pine, high elevation willow, spruce, fir and alpine tundra – found in the Southern Rocky Mountains.

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