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Vitter, Alexander Say Administration’s Policy on Endangered Species Has Ridiculous Inconsistencies
Question why traditional energy producers are punished for killing birds, while wind energy is allowed waivers to kill bald eagles and condors.
May 14, 2013

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the top Republican of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Obama Administration has been biased in choosing who has violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Administration has pursued cases involving oil and gas producers, and not wind energy producers.

According to a Los Angeles Times story, a wind farm in California, Terra Gen Power will not be prosecuted if their wind turbines kill endangered California condors. An Associated Press story today highlighted the inconsistencies with wind farms being exempted.

"The Administration is clearly hand-picking which migratory bird mortality cases to pursue with an obvious preference to go after oil and gas producers," said Vitter. "For example, while three oil and gas companies faced criminal charges for killing birds, a wind energy company in California has reportedly been given a free pass to kill endangered condors and a Minnesota wind company has applied for permits to kill up to fifteen bald eagles. We obviously don't want to see indiscriminate killing of birds from any sort of energy production, yet the Administration's ridiculous inconsistencies begs questioning and clarity - clarity on why wind energy producers are let off the hook."

Alexander said, "Basically, the federal government has issued a condor hunting permit to big wind companies. Federal law designed to protect a species from extinction doesn't distinguish between oil and gas companies and wind farms. Equal protection of the law means laws should be enforced evenly, and it's wrong for the Department of Justice to enforce the law against oil and gas companies but not against wind companies."

For example, the Department of Justice brought charges against three oil and gas production companies for the incidental killing of migratory birds, while ignoring migratory bird deaths that have occurred as a result of wind energy production. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated annual bird mortality from wind energy production to be approximately 440,000 in its fiscal year 2013 budget justification.

In January, Vitter and Alexander wrote a letter to the Department of Justice shining a light on Federal officials allowing a wind energy farm in southeastern Minnesota to apply for a permit to allow for the death of bald eagles, which has the potential to kill between eight and fifteen bald eagles each year. The Administration has yet to respond to that request.

Click here to watch Senator Vitter speak about this on the Senate Floor earlier this year.

Click here to read a copy of the January 30, 2013 letter from Vitter and Alexander.

 

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May 2013 Press Releases

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