On Wednesday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced revisions to federal regulations on activities that affect bald and golden eagles. The focus of AP’s reporting was on the rule’s significance for wind farms. The rule, though, applies to any industry or individual who harms an eagle during activities that are otherwise legal, assuming that they’ve made every effort possible to avoid impacts.
The American Wind Energy Association has a fact check that’s sure to come in handy as we inevitably see a fresh round of fossil fuel-penned pieces crying crocodile tears for birds. Their attacks will, of course, ignore the important fact that, by rough estimate, near about 3 percent of human-caused eagle deaths are caused by wind turbines. While this updated permitting regulation allows for 4,200 annual bird deaths, at present 970 million birds crash into buildings annually, 175 million die after flying into power lines, 72 million killed by misapplied pesticide, 6.6 million from collisions with communications towers, and “as many as 1 million birds die in oil and gas industry fluid waste pits." Wind turbines, by comparison, killed approximately 573,000 birds in 2012.
These stats and more can be found in a debunking of the attacks repeatedly made by Robert Bryce in the Wall Street Journal. Bryce wrote op-eds attacking wind power in February, October and November 2013, which are all similar to one he wrote in 2009, and just like what he wrote in 2015. Since he already attacked wind power back in February of this year, one might think the WSJ editors wouldn’t want to go back to him for essentially a rerun of the same op-ed. But the WSJ has published over twenty of his pieces since 2009, all of which are either explicitly anti-wind or pro-fossil fuels.
Since he clearly cares deeply for birds, perhaps Bryce should take up a job at the Audubon Society (if they would have him, of course). Given the massive harm to birds from carbon pollution (an Audubon report found that half of all of America’s birds are at risk from climate change) he should be gung-ho about reducing emissions. And if his concern were genuine and not just a front for a war on wind, he would at minimum stop writing pro-coal and pro-oil pieces for the fossil-fuel funded Manhattan Institute.
So it’s probably safe to assume that he’ll remain a Senior Fellow, happily nested there for many more years, endlessly parroting the same attacks we’ve seen time and again, as predictable as the annual migrations of the birds he cynically exploits. Maybe one day he’ll hatch a new angle of attack, but probably not, since it’s tough to get a new idea to take flight when you’re a birdbrain. But if he does, well then we’ll just have to eat crow.
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