Letters to the Editor for Jan. 23, 2012
Wind power a viable option
To the editor:
Your Jan. 13 editorial “Not All Birds Equal” draws a parallel between the regulation of wind farms with respect to birds and that of hydro dams with respect to fish. The differences, however, are considerably greater than your editorial reflects. First, wind power is not a major source of human-related eagle mortality. The wind industry deeply regrets that eagles are killed occasionally at wind farms, and is doing more to analyze these impacts and find ways to reduce them than any other mortality source. However, based on existing publicly available data, wind energy appears to be responsible for less than 1 percent of human-related eagle fatalities, ranking well below lead poisoning (from eating prey that has been shot by hunters), poisoning in general, illegal shooting, electrocutions on and collisions with power lines (specifically, smaller distribution lines that serve fossil fuel production areas), collisions with vehicles, and even drownings in livestock watering tanks. As with mortality of birds and other wildlife, the wind power industry is taking even its relatively low impacts seriously and working proactively and cooperatively to find ways to further reduce them.
Second, while I can’t speak to the action or inaction of other industries on this front, the wind energy industry is working with the Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife officials, and conservation organizations to properly site wind projects and reduce its impacts. That proactive cooperation is the primary reason waw enforcement actions have not been taken to date against wind farms.
No energy source, or human activity for that matter, is completely benign. Regardless of how we decide to power our society, there will be some impacts. Studies that compare the impacts of different energy sources consistently find wind power’s impact among the lowest—not surprising given that it requires no mining or drilling for fuel, uses virtually no water, and creates no air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gases, or hazardous waste.
Director of Siting Policy
American Wind Energy Association