Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Final federal wind-turbine rule not good news for eagles


Matthew Daily reports for the Associated Press
:


The Obama administration on Wednesday finalized a rule that lets wind-energy companies operate high-speed turbines for up to 30 years - even if means killing or injuring thousands of federally protected bald and golden eagles.

Under the new rule, wind companies and other power providers will not face a penalty if they kill or injure up to 4,200 bald eagles, nearly four times the current limit. Deaths of the more rare golden eagles would be allowed without penalty so long as companies minimize losses by taking steps such as retrofitting power poles to reduce the risk of electrocution.

The new rule will conserve eagles while also spurring development of a pollution-free energy source intended to ease global warming, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's energy plan, said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

"No animal says America like the bald eagle," Ashe said in a statement, calling recovery of the bald eagle "one of our greatest national conservation achievements." The new rule attempts to build on that success, Ashe said, adding that the Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to balance energy development with eagle conservation.

Wind power has increased significantly since Obama took office, and wind turbines as tall as 30-story buildings are rising across the country. The wind towers have spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet's wingspan, and blades reach speeds of up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

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