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Thread: Feds look other way as wind farms kill birds

  1. #1 Feds look other way as wind farms kill birds 
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    Feds look other way as wind farms kill birds -- but haul oil and gas firms to court | Fox News

    “How does an industry kill more than 2,000 eagles and not be fined once?” Johns said. “It’s a head scratcher.”
    A study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that 10,000 birds – almost all that are protected by the migratory bird act – are being killed every year at the wind farm in Altamont Pass, Calif.
    A few months ago, the Justice Department brought charges against Oklahoma oil company Continental Resources as well as six others in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds in violation of the Bird Treaty Act.
    Continental CEO Harold Hamm called the move “completely discriminatory.”


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  3. #2  
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    Since it's the popular "alternative" resource for energy, it appears that a little looking the other way is warranted - politically speaking.

    They should face their fines with integrity.


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    Altamont Pass is old, out of date, and would never pass a modern environmental impact assessment. Those small turbines would never meet any economic assessment either.

    Old wind farms should be treated much like old coal power stations. They should be subject to phasing out provisions and penalties for environmental harm. The trouble with a wind farm is that if it's still working long after it's paid for itself it's a real money maker, much more profitable than an equivalent fossil power station that has to pay for fuel. There has to be some kind of process to force upgrades.

    Maybe some equivalent of the German system of withdrawing support from technologies as they are superseded by newer technology. But maybe applying the higher standards that apply to new applications rather than grandfathering the existing operations. Looks hard to an outsider but I'm sure there are mechanisms.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    What about the expenses incurred? Someone has to pay for all that upgrading.
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    Pay? There have to be costs. It really depends on how the system in the state/region/grid works. I know there are all sorts of rules about priority - which power source comes first, second through to last. Just demoting them down such a list might be a gradual way.

    Or they could just accept paying the fines for bird deaths and make up their own minds about when it will become cheaper to retire/ replace the old turbines.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    Yes, pay. I do not know (at all) if they can afford to go replacing their systems en masse, but I suspect that's not so easy to do, if they are like any other business with a heavy expense infrastructure.
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    if they are like any other business with a heavy expense infrastructure.
    My suspicion is that they could be like a lot of others. Spend up front and grudge every penny for maintenance and modernisation thereafter. Depends a lot on the current owners. Are they just treating it as a cash cow investment? Or are they using the funds to increase investments in similar ventures elsewhere? If it's the second case, they'd probably be open to incentives or other encouragement to upgrade. The first case? If they operate in a way that isn't acceptable for more modern wind farms, drop the piano on them. Fines, controls, whatever gets them to lift their game.
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    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    Since it's the popular "alternative" resource for energy, it appears that a little looking the other way is warranted - politically speaking.

    They should face their fines with integrity.
    The executive branch does not make laws. They are only supposed to enforce laws, and not in a discriminatory manner.
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    Is the point that windfarms that, by their design, are killing protected wildlife should be fined and forced to change or that oil and gas projects that are killing protected wildlife should not be fined or forced to change?
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    I don't see what the issue is here. There is a precedent establish on fining oil companies that leave fluids pools open/uncovered which leads birds flying down into them. The Denver case started in 2005 and was only recently resolved. There has been newer cases that have been dismissed.

    The very same Harold Hamm of Continental Resources claim it was "a great victory for common sense." He goes on to say
    "We didn't rig up an $8 million drilling rig out there intending to take wildlife," Hamm said. "We're certainly not out there hunting birds."
    Which is the same reasoning can be applied to Wind Farms or tall buildings for that matter.

    It seems that oil companies are now being treated the same way presently. Is there any other court cases which supports the Fox News Claims?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Is the point that windfarms that, by their design, are killing protected wildlife should be fined and forced to change or that oil and gas projects that are killing protected wildlife should not be fined or forced to change?
    The point is that the law should be enforced uniformly. In the first example cited in the article, the birds were not killed by the design, but by negilgence of the wind farm operators leaving the lights on.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1
    Which is the same reasoning can be applied to Wind Farms or tall buildings for that matter.
    Not the same reasoning as negligently leaving the lights on - three times.
    It seems that oil companies are now being treated the same way presently. Is there any other court cases which supports the Fox News Claims?
    Did you read the article? It says a Denver based oil company was fined last week.
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    The Denver based oil company investigation started in 2005, it was resolved last week. The Fox News article isn't very specific on the dates or actual cases pending before which particular federal court. It is mostly an opinion piece. I'm just looking for the facts.

    There are newer cases started a year ago last summer and resolved last January. Did you read the article? The ruling from January are more in line to the wording of the actual law (The Bird Treaty Act). The tone of the law reads as to willful acts to bring harm to these birds. An inanimate object like a wind turbine, oil rig, a tall building, or a pool of oil waste doesn't poach or transport these protected birds.

    The article is vague and seems dated by almost a full year.
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    I had the same thought. Most of the penalties seem connected to other laws which show negligence when something didn't happen, such as there aren't supposed to be oil spills or ponds, wires in some places are supposed to be marked with bird deterrents. Does anything similar exist for wind turbines? I don't think so.
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    I suppose there is case law for oil drilling and such, but none so far for wind turbines? I suppose that in itself could be a problem, along with the kind of news coverage and general sensation a case like this will produce against a supposedly clean source of power.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
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    Looking further into the story, which the article doesn't do:

    Oregon-based electric company PacifiCorp was ordered to pay $1.4 million in fines for killing 232 eagles that were electrocuted by power lines in Wyoming.
    Relates to a US Fish and Wildlife Service investigation that began in 2007 where PacifiCorp pleaded guilty to excessive eagle mortalities to its electrical distribution and transmission facilities.
    Until this past year, PacifiCorp had failed to use readily available measures to address avian
    electrocutions in Wyoming – measures that could have saved numerous eagles and other birds.
    Under the terms of its plea agreement, the company must implement an Avian Protection Plan
    for the State that will include retrofitting and modernizing its electrical distribution and
    transmission system to reduce eagle mortalities.
    It seems negligence was agreed upon by both parties.
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    All birds can hear so why not just put a device that sends a sound wave that lets the birds know there's something in their way to make them alter their flight away from it.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...kSZ8rcrukp9_-A
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    All birds can hear so why not just put a device that sends a sound wave that lets the birds know there's something in their way to make them alter their flight away from it.
    I would suspect that the issue is when a bird has a wide enough wingspan to cross both lines. Which is when they get fried. Landing on one wire won't do it- they need to touch both.

    Placing insulated spacers (I'm sure you have seen spacers or brackets on lines before) keeping them pretty far apart is usually how it's done.

    Edit: To point out just how phenomenally stupid I really am...
    When I read the O.P. it didn't occur to me that the eagles were fried at the wires. I wondered if they got chopped up in the windmill blades...


    <facepalm>
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    Harold @11 - I was actually wondering what the point was for Harold Hamm and Continental Resources and their ilk. It sounds to me more driven by the ongoing view of environmentalists and environmental regulation as enemy than out of any sense of wanting to protect bird life - or out of any overwhelming desire to see those regulations enforced uniformly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Harold @11 - I was actually wondering what the point was for Harold Hamm and Continental Resources and their ilk. It sounds to me more driven by the ongoing view of environmentalists and environmental regulation as enemy than out of any sense of wanting to protect bird life - or out of any overwhelming desire to see those regulations enforced uniformly.
    Well, he won his case in court, so I would say he did have a point. What is his "ilk"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    Edit: To point out just how phenomenally stupid I really am...
    When I read the O.P. it didn't occur to me that the eagles were fried at the wires. I wondered if they got chopped up in the windmill blades...


    <facepalm>
    I feel slightly less alone in my own stupidity then.
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    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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