Our National symbol, the uniquely American bald eagle; Majestic, proud, monogamous. Snatched back from the brink of extinction in 1967, he is a symbol of the success of the Endangered Species Act.
Now our National corporate gods are about to get a free pass to kill as many of our American symbols as their industrial-scale wind energy utility installations happen to chop up. Apparently it's OK as long as it's 'in the course of doing business'.
You did read that right. Now the new deity of American politicians is turning its attention to our (evidently expendable) National bird. You see, if anything - including any living thing, even an entire species - stands between a corporation and its profits, then it needs to be sacrificed.
According to this press release from The American Bird Conservancy;
A proposal to gut an important rule that protects eagles is being rushed through the Fish and Wildlife Service before President Obama’s new Secretary of Interior can be confirmed.
This rule will result in more of these iconic birds being killed at wind energy projects throughout the United States.
I've written about the 'incidental take' permit in past posts. Now the wind giants wish to take this unethical and unsustainable, literal license to kill, to unprecedented levels. Quoting from the American Bird Conservancy again,
The federal government currently allows corporations to get permits to avoid prosecution for killing limited numbers of eagles as part of their normal operations if they also promise to offset this damage. These permits must be renewed every five years, giving the public regular opportunity to assess an industry’s operations. However, at the request of wind energy industry lobbyists, the federal government has now proposed making the permits good for 30 years! That means 30 years without the possibility for public review of the permit.
If allowed, this will in effect not only drive our bald and golden eagles into oblivion, but it's yet another nail in the coffin of the Endangered Species Act and all the wildlife and wilderness Americans hold dear. As with the politically-driven and illegal delisting of grey wolves, a 30 year free-ride to slaughter a threatened species for the sake of greed could open the Pandora's Box to unfathomable permanent damage to our wilderness, our wildlife, our National Parks and our National will to protect our stunning natural heritage.
For those of you new to the wind 'farm' debate, the concept of using wind as an energy source is full of potential. The problem is, those building out these sprawling, ecologically destructive, inefficient and ugly utility conmplexes, aren't interested in bird-and-bat-safe turbine designs. They don't care that sensitive species in fragile habitats (for instance the prairie chicken) might be scared out of their breeding grounds by the looming structures, or that new installations of deadly turbines are being built right in the flight paths of highly endangered whooping cranes, or that offshore installations destroy fisheries and clam beds and lure albatrosses and other ocean birds to their deaths.
Bald eagles aren't the only victims. Bats, whooping cranes, golden eagles, sea birds, condors and more are routinely slaughtered by these gruesome guillotine-mills. It makes anyone with any intelligence wonder why these corporations knowingly continue to install archaic and deadly (plus inefficient) designs when there are new, safer and more efficient technologies out there.
There are ways, and designs, to retool this industry so it's surface promise of truly Earth-and-wildlife-friendly renewable energy could actually be realized. However, this greedy and corrupt industry (owned, by the way, by many of the same players as the dirty fossil fuel industry), is simply not interested in compromising their financial bottom line for something as frivolous as our National symbol. Or biological diversity. Or the health of our country's ecosystems. Or the desire of a vast majority of American tax payers to protect, preserve and cherish our unique and irreplaceable wildlife heritage.
Bear in mind that if you or I 'accidentally' or intentionally killed a bald eagle, we would suffer "a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment. The fine doubles for an organization. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.", according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Which is how it should be.
No matter how much it will cost a corporation killing hundreds or thousands of bald eagles 'in the course of doing business', if they kill eagles, they should pay. Or change their ways of doing business so birds and bats are not killed through their actions. And 30 years is far too long to let the slaughter continue without review.
We could be out of bald eagles entirely by then.
Don't let these corporate giants get a free ride at the expense of our National symbol. Please sign and share.