For Immediate Release: April 30, 2007
Renewal of Tax Credits for Wind Energy Should Require
Protections for Birds and Bats
(Washington, D.C.) Bird protection measures must become mandatory for wind energy projects because voluntary steps are being ignored by the wind energy industry says Dr. Michael Fry of American Bird Conservancy in testimony before the House Subcommittee Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans tomorrow.
The hearing “Gone with the Wind: Impacts of Wind Turbines on Birds and Bats” is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Tuesday May 1 and will be webcast live on the Committee’s web site at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov. A copy of Dr. Fry’s testimony is available at http://www.abcbirds.org/policy_wind_testimony.htm.
“Collaborative efforts to successfully address the impacts of wind projects on birds and wildlife have been a failure,” said Dr. Fry, who is a member of the National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC) comprised of representatives from the utility, wind industry, environmental and government sectors. “There has been much discussion and almost no real action on the part of the wind industry to resolve bird collision issues.”
The House Ways and Means Committee is currently considering an extension of tax breaks for wind energy production. To keep the wind industry growing, its advocates are aiming to push Congress to extend a tax credit worth 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour that currently does not require any action on behalf of the wind energy industry to mitigate its impacts on federally protected migratory birds. The credit generally expires and is renewed every two years.
“Any renewal of the production tax credit for wind energy should include provisions that require developers follow best management practices in avoiding and minimizing bird and wildlife impacts,” said Dr. Fry.
According to The Worldwatch Institute Report, “American Energy: The Renewable Path to Energy Security,” in 2005, the United States led the world in wind energy installations. In the same year, wind farms were the country’s second largest source of new generating capacity, after natural gas-fired plants.
But according to the NWCC, this growing alternative energy source is killing between 30,000 to 60,000 birds a year, including Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Burrowing Owls, Mourning Doves, bluebirds and over 50 species of migratory songbirds. At the current mortality rate and growth rate of the wind industry, by 2030 a projected 900,000 to 1.8 million birds would be killed per year by wind turbines, unless protective measures are implemented.
ABC believes that with proper siting, operation, and monitoring, wind energy can provide clean, renewable energy for America's future with minimal impacts to birds and bats. Concerns have surfaced over the potential threat to birds and bats from the construction and operation of wind energy projects. ABC emphasizes that before approval and construction of new wind energy projects proceeds, potential risks to birds and bats should be evaluated through site analyses, including assessments of bird and bat abundance, timing and magnitude of migration, and habitat use patterns.
Wind energy project location, design, operation, and lighting should be carefully evaluated to prevent, or at least minimize, bird and bat mortality and adverse impacts through habitat fragmentation, disturbance, and site avoidance. For example, wherever possible, wind power projects should be sited on areas with poor habitat, such as agricultural lands rather than native prairie. Sites requiring special scrutiny include sites that are frequented by federally listed endangered species of birds and bats, in known bird migration pathways, areas where birds are highly concentrated, and areas that have landscape features known to attract large numbers of raptors.
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ABC is the only 501(c)(3) organization that works solely to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats, while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is the voice for birds, ensuring that they are adequately protected; that sufficient funding is available for bird conservation; and that land is protected and properly managed to maintain viable habitat.
ABC is a membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.