Ill Wind for Bats and Birds

Even clean energy can take its toll on animals if caution is thrown to the wind. According to an analysis by Mark Hayes of the University of Colorado, published in the December 2013 issue of the journal BioScience, wind turbines within the contiguous United States killed more than 600,000 bats in 2012—and perhaps as many as 900,000. Hayes writes that “The development and expansion of wind energy facilities is a key threat to bat populations in North America.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration published a final rule in December that allows for 30-year permits to be issued for wind farms to “take” (kill or injure) bald and golden eagles. The administration and industry say it will provide needed certainty to wind projects, and that under the rule, wind farms must take steps to prevent bird deaths. Not everyone is convinced, however. “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check,” said National Audubon Society’s president and CEO, David Yarnold.