Call for Public Debate on Wind Power After Misleading Industry Release on Bird Deaths
For Immediate Release Contact:
, 202-234-7181 ext. 210
Whooping Crane. Photo: Tom Grey
(Washington, D.C., March 3, 2011) American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation group, today called for a public debate on the wind industry’s impact on birds. The call followed a March 1 press statement by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) that asserted that wind power is not a significant threat to birds, and cited data that erroneously suggests that bird mortality from wind power will be fraction of the real projected toll.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has estimated that approximately 440,000 birds are already being killed each year by wind turbines, yet AWEA continues to assert that the death toll is less than one quarter of this. More importantly, the industry association ignores the fact that wind development is currently a tiny fraction of that proposed for 2030 when it is anticipated to kill a minimum of one million birds annually, and likely many more.
“It is unfortunate that, rather than owning up to, solving, or at least mitigating for impacts to birds from wind farm installations, the industry’s lobbyists spin outdated and misleading information, and try to conceal the inconvenient truth that wind energy has significant bird impacts that need to be addressed. Instead of asserting that they are the good guys merely because they are not as bad as coal, they should be looking at how they can get their own environmental house in better order,” said Michael Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy.
“The wind industry is in danger of alienating its greatest environmental advocates by continuing to deny there is a problem with birds. What they should be doing is working constructively with groups like ABC to make the small siting and operational changes needed to minimize bird impacts. ABC is in favor of bird-smart wind, yet industry groups are opposed to even voluntary guidelines to help reduce bird impacts. This does not look like a green industry right now” he added. “It is irresponsible of the wind industry to dismiss what is widely accepted to be in the millions of bird deaths by 2030 as insignificant.”
The issues with wind go far beyond mortality caused by the turbine blades alone, and include impacts from the power lines that bring wind-generated electricity to the grid and habitat loss from the footprint of the wind farms and associated roads and structures. Power lines are a particular threat for species such as the endangered Whooping Crane and other large birds that are at risk from collisions with the lines. About 20,000 square miles of habitat will be likely lost in the 2030 build-out – larger than the combined areas of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island - which threatens birds such as the Greater Sage-Grouse and other species in the West.
“ABC supports the concept of wind energy. With just a few reasonable bird-smart accommodations, we could realize the enormous green potential that is waiting to be fully tapped, and we would be happy to work with industry toward that end. But AWEA is doing both the public and those members of the wind industry who are trying to do the right thing a great disservice by concealing the full spectrum of bird impacts. We believe a public debate would help the nation decide what is myth and what is fact,” Parr said.
The wind industry receives huge taxpayer subsidies, yet continues to harm birds in violation of two major environmental laws – the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
American Bird Conservancy conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, protecting and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. For more information, visit, www.abcbirds.org
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.