American Bird Conservancy slams AWEA for misleading, irresponsible tactics

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“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up to, solving, or at least mitigating for impacts to birds from wind farm installations, the industry’s lobbyists spin outdated and misleading information, and try to conceal the inconvenient truth that wind energy has significant bird impacts that need to be addressed.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,” ~ Michael Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy.

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up to, solving, or at least mitigating for impacts to birds from wind farm installations, the industry’s lobbyists spin outdated and misleading information, and try to conceal the inconvenient truth that wind energy has significant bird impacts that need to be addressed.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 (http://www.abcbirds.org>) conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization.

15 thoughts on “American Bird Conservancy slams AWEA for misleading, irresponsible tactics

  1. “Under United States Code Title 16, Chapter 7, Subchapter II, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is the United States legislation implementing the convention between the U.S. and Great Britain (for Canada). It replaced the Weeks-McLean Act, which had become effective in 1913. The United States subsequently entered into similar agreements with four other nations (Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia) to protect migratory birds. The statute makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell birds listed therein (“migratory birds”). The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests. Over 800 species are currently on the list.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migratory_Bird_Treaty_Act_of_1918

    How exactly does the wind industry remain exempt from this?

  2. “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….” Parr said.

    Exactly what does that “enormous green potential that is waiting to be fully tapped” look like, Mr. Parr ?

  3. I don’t understand it either — This industry has gotten away with saying .. more birds are killed by cats and tall buildings, than the IWF ever do…. And our counties and state officials just stand there and believe it.
    They are able to get “take” permits to allow for distroying a certain number of an endangered species
    I really believe that more and more agencies and organizations need to come out publically and take a stand for protecting the birds etc. from the IWF being located near migratory routes.
    As far as I can tell there is no teeth in any of the laws to provide protection.

  4. Dr.Rick Smith,now of Environmental Defence, was from 1997-2002 Executive Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Canadian office.

    The Internationl Fund For Animal Welfare is an animal activist group protecting animals. So how come it’s ok to protect some animals but birds and bats don’t count?

  5. GREENPEACE USA May 18,2010 http://www.greenpeace.org

    “Greenpeace lauds historic new pact to save Canada’s Boreal Forest”

    Parties to the agreement are: GREENPEACE,Canadian Boreal Initative,Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society,Canopy,The Nature Conservency,Pew Environmental Group,IVEY FOUNDATION,FORESTETHICS,Hewlett Foundation and SUZUKI FOUNDATION.

    So these groups don’t work togther?

  6. The actual headline of this article should be “Give us Money and We Will Shut Up”.

    /sarc

  7. I had a look at their website. It would seem to me that they actually care about birds. I do not get the feeling that they would be corrupted from that goal. Their positions and decisions are based on science. It would seem to me that they would make a good ally. I am sure that they would be happy to be associated with a group that based their positions and decisions on science and facts and conduct themselves in a professional manner. In the hopes of achieving a common goal.

    From their website:
    Our Pledge to You
    ABC pledges to make the best use of your gift for the benefit of bird conservation. We endeavor to operate as efficiently as possible and to keep operating expenses low, so that we can direct as much money as possible to our core mission: conserving native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.

    ABC further promises to conduct its business in an open and transparent manner. To that end we conduct full, annual, independent audits, and make our financial statements available to the public. Click here for ABC’s 990 Form.

  8. Bette & Melodie,

    Do a Google search for American Bird Conservancy + Greenpeace and you can do the same with Ducks Unlimited. Then let us know what your opinion is.

  9. “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.”
    Blah, blah, blah. What part of the concept do they love? Green potential, what garbly goo talk is this? Are we supposed to take an organization serious with guidelines like this?
    Chasing rainbows for the pot of gold, it’ll only be a pail of BS.
    Wind Turbines=bird carcasses

  10. Barbara I saw the connection, plus in one letter to a rep. they put everything and the kitchen sink in there! It seems like some of these organizations would wake up and “see the light” and realize what damage IWF do to the environment, landscape wildlife, birds and people.
    As a person who always saw myself as an evironmentalist I find myself parting company with many. That being said I believe the more diverse groups we muster together the better.
    In my own experience with talking local state legislature and local government — they like to pigeon hole us as “anti-wind”. It doesn’t matter that we have facts, figures, etc. the wind lobbyist says we are “anti-wind” I have come to think that in our situation here in the U. S. our strength will be in numbers of people from a variety of groups. The average person who wants safe setbacks of wind turbines from people and avoiding migratory routes has no lobbyist. The wind company lobbyist is there every day talking with the representative.

  11. The idea that with a few tweaks IWTs will stop killing birds or bats is at best an illusion. There is no mitigation available other than not building the IWTs in the first place. IWTs need too much area (not including transmission lines) and cannot be mitigated even if the blades are stopped. If an area could be found it would be too small and the transmission lines are still a problem. If a group in any way supports the industrial wind industry they do not care for birds or bats.

    John’s title matches. There may be a few ABC members who care about birds and bats but they should learn more about the green monster their organization is supporting. Right now it appears ABC cares more about ABC.

  12. Another story about the American Bird Conservancy to help decide their true motivation.

    http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/08/29/wind-farms-under-fire-for-bird-kills/

    If the ongoing investigation by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s law enforcement division results in a prosecution at Pine Tree, it will be a first. The conservancy (American Bird Conservancy) wants stronger regulations and penalties for the wind industry, but the government has so far responded only with voluntary guidelines.

    I think they are still new to the game and trying to get along but haven’t fully realized that a compromise won’t work.

  13. Oil Companies Prosecuted for Avian Deaths but Wind Companies Kill Birds With Impunity
    http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/09/08/oil-companies-prosecuted-for-avian-deaths-but-wind-companies-kill-birds-with-impunity/

    “The United States Attorney in North Dakota has charged seven oil companies in seven separate cases with violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the illegal killing of 28 migratory birds. Yet, American Bird Conservancy – the nation’s leading bird conservation organization – reports that the wind industry, despite killing more than 400,000 birds annually, has yet to face a single charge.”

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