A Portland-based wind energy company is appealing to a U.S. district court to stop the Department of the Interior from releasing information about birds killed by wind turbines that would, the suit claims, cause “irreparable harm” to Pacificorp, which operates more than a dozen wind farms. The Guardian reports:
The information the AP sought was part of its larger investigation into bird and eagle deaths at windfarms and the administration’s reluctance to prosecute the cases as it advocated the pollution-free energy source. The AP asked the US Fish and Wildlife Service for data collected under federal permits given to companies to collect the carcasses of protected bird species, including eagles and migratory birds, found dead at their facilities. […]Wind energy companies objected to the AP’s efforts to uncover more information about the numbers of bird deaths. The companies said the information was confidential, submitted voluntarily and should not be revealed under the government’s open records law.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t first note that skyscrapers and cats kill far, far more birds annually than do wind farms. That said, there are ironies within ironies to unpack here. First, there’s the discomfiting fact that this “green” energy source is killing wildlife, including government-protected bird species. The AP is investigating whether or not the government is cutting renewable energy sources, like Pacificorp’s wind farms or the Ivanpah solar plant, some slack when it comes to enforcing the protection of endangered or migratory species, a very serious question indeed.Then, there’s the stark hypocrisy of the wind industry attempting to obscure data, the kind of maneuver greens might expect from soulless fossil fuel companies. The environmental movement likes to imagine itself joined at the hip with the scientific community, but has showed time and time again that it will abandon that relationship at the drop of a hat if the facts stop suiting its cause.Every energy source entails risks, and though greens may be loathe to admit it and apparently the industry seems determined to hide it, that includes renewables. That doesn’t mean we ought to ditch them, but it does require an honest accounting of the costs and benefits of all of our available options.