Wind Farm Gets a Pass on Killing Eagles In Order to Save Them

A California wind farm will be the first in the nation to take advantage of a new federal policy that allows it to inadvertently kill legally-protected eagles without paying a penalty.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced last week that the 3,500-acre Shiloh IV Wind Project near Rio Vista in Solano County is set to receive a five-year permit that will let it kill five golden or bald eagles without getting slapped down. In exchange, the project owners agreed to take mitigation measures to lessen the chance of that happening.

Shiloh will retrofit 133 power poles at its farm, where 50 turbines generate 102 megawatts of electricity, to prevent electrocution of the birds.

Wind farms have been killing eagles and other birds for years; it’s kind of hard not to when dozens of giant turbines with whirling blades are situated in windy areas near their habitats. But environmentalists who feel protective of the birds also recognize that wind power is a promising alternative to carbon-based energy sources.

Many have opted to seek mitigation measures as a tradeoff to prevent even more dead birds. But a healthy skepticism remains. “We think the permit process is one way to do that,” Audubon Renewable Energy Director for California Garry George told CNN. “We hope it provides conservation, but we don’t know if it will.”

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