We know that government’s knack for finding something wrong with everything rivals even the most stereotypical mother-in-law. But the relentless fault-finding’s latest victim may surprise you: federal prosecutors have fined a green energy company $8 million and slapped on a five-year probation period after bald and golden eagles died on its wind farms.
There is now no such thing as “clean energy.” Even so-called “green energy” is tinged with the blood of birds.
Just when you thought the war on energy couldn’t get any more ridiculous, Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has sucker-punched one of its own golden boys. The energy company NextEra unintentionally killed 150 birds across eight states over the course of a decade, all while trying to heed Biden’s call to “scale up clean energy.”
NextEra Energy subsidiary ESI Energy was sentenced…after being charged with three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act during a court appearance in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The charges arose from the deaths of nine eagles at three wind farms in Wyoming and New Mexico.
In addition to those deaths, the company acknowledged the deaths of golden and bald eagles at 50 wind farms affiliated with ESI and NextEra since 2012, prosecutors said. Birds were killed in eight states: Wyoming, California, New Mexico, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois.
Turns out spinning 164-foot-long wind turbine blades at upwards of 100 miles per hour brings with it the risk of knocking off a few birds. Who knew?
The hefty fine and probation aren’t the end of it either. The AP further reports that the plea deal involves the company committing $27 million toward preventing future eagle deaths, “shutting down turbines at times when eagles are more likely to be present,” and paying $29,623 every time a wind turbine kills an eagle in the future.
Well, dang. With fines like these, who needs green energy?
I must say, though I am an unabashed fossil fuel aficionado, I can’t help but feel a little for these wind folks. You see, I was under the impression that crimes required intent or negligence of some sort. Apparently, though, per the AP, “Companies historically have been able to avoid prosecution under the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty law if they take steps to avoid deaths and seek permits for those that occur.”
How, though, does the government expect NextEra, or any wind energy company, to harness the insane amount of wind we need to be carbon neutral by 2030 without ending some bird lives? Should they wrap those blades in some ethically sourced, recycled bubble wrap? Slow the blades down, so the little birdbrains can get out of the way in time? Make the windmills teeny tiny and compensate for their miniature size by multiplying them by the millions all over the place?
All of these suggestions make about as much sense as fining NextEra Energy $53,000 for every eagle they supposedly killed over the course of the past ten years. Does the Migratory White Tail Deer Treaty Commission now intend to slap me with a hefty fine and revoke my driver’s license after Bambi inevitably collides with my car next hunting season?
Also — “…if they seek permits for those [deaths] that occur.” So you are actually allowed to kill birds if you jump through the government’s hoops first? And it’s all right so long as you pay the government for the homicide afterward? Why? Is Uncle Sam going to put that money toward eaglet egg incubators?
Don’t get me wrong: I love birds. But I also love electricity, and lots of it. If these wind turbines were decimating the eagle population, then sure, take NextEra Energy for all they’re worth. But what are the greenies now telling us? That the sacrifice of a handful of eagles does not justify the copious benefits that wind energy advocates claim the resource provides.
Then again, coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants also provide copious benefits to the human race. And they outweigh the minimal impacts these resources have on the environment. For the government, though, no source of energy is outside the bounds of censure.
Hydropower usually requires the damming of a water source; this can kill fish and affect other biological systems. Can you imagine the Hoover Dam being approved by the EPA today? Coal, of course, emits sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the air (and smells amazing). Nuclear power creates apocalyptic risks, and we have to hide all the radioactive waste somewhere. Natural gas requires fracking, but leaving the surface essentially untouched and drilling deep within Mother Nature’s core to extract her bountiful assets is mean, or something. Solar energy is inefficient, because sometimes the sun just doesn’t show up. And have you ever been to a solar farm? The trees are clear-cut and the land must be re-graded by giant diesel-guzzling bulldozers (which also smell amazing). A bulldozer re-grading ground? Sounds a lot like backfilling a coal strip mine. Then there’s the pesky business of where and how to dispose of the giant, toxin-spewing batteries that store solar energy but can’t be recycled.
And at last we have wind energy, that deceptively violent enemy of our innocent national bird. You know what? Those federal prosecutors are right. Eagles don’t deserve to die just so some greedy Americans can heat their homes and power their refrigerators and see in the dark. Wind farms are cruel and destructive and it’s time we did away with wind energy altogether. Don’t worry: it just so happens there’s loads of coal and natural gas to make up for it…
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