Feds playing favorites: Wind industry keeps getting a free pass on bird deaths

posted at 2:41 pm on December 18, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

The environmental lobby has used the Endangered Species Act and its many wildlife-related legal brethren to accomplish any number of their radical goals, including designating lands as untouchable wilderness and bringing the pain on oil and gas companies for any infractions, real or imagined. The golden eagle, the spotted owl, the sage grouse, and etcetera get constant lip service from the greens in shutting off access to drilling in specific areas, and the Obama administration has been only too happy to follow the strict letter of the law when it comes to these hydrocarbon industries.

When it comes to the wind industry, however, mass bird deaths are oftentimes miraculously overlooked by the feds. Fox News reports on the many instances of the Justice Department, the Interior Department and its many zealous agencies, and etcetera finding fault and filing charges against oil and gas companies, but the wind industry seems to be enjoying their coveted status as a designated eco-friendly renewable energy:

Following the deaths of a dozen migratory birds in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska several years back, a Denver-based oil company was fined $22,500. The company was also ordered to make an additional $7,500 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

… While the federal government aggressively pursues oil and gas companies for wildlife deaths, it often gives wind producers a pass. …

The wind sector has had an exemption from prosecution under two of America’s oldest wildlife-protection laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Eagle Protection Act. A violation of either law could result in a fine up to $250,000 or two years imprisonment. To date, the Obama administration — following in the footsteps of the George W. Bush administration – has not prosecuted a single case against the wind industry. What they have done is gone after oil and natural gas providers for similar infractions.

“How does an industry kill more than 2,000 eagles and not be fined once?” Johns said. “It’s a head scratcher.”

There is a clear double standard at work here. Not only has the wind industry been the recipient of all kinds of cash infusion from the federal government over the years — including the generous production tax credit which they claim they still need in order to “compete” after two decades — but they have more or less been granted implicit immunity from federal wildlife-law prosecution because of the ostensible green banner beneath which they claim they fly.

The funny thing is, even some true-believer greenies have found reasons to criticize the wind industry (and the solar industry!), as the above article suggests. But, in an attempt to appeal to the only vaguely informed but oh-so-eco-trendy voters that make up much of the Democratic base, not to mention the rent-seeking ‘clean’-energy lobby from which they receive all kinds of moolah, the Obama administration has invested far too much money and political capital in renewable energies to not defend them at all costs.

And, while we’re on the subject, here’s yet another example of the green-energy industry and the Obama administration tangled up in something that smells awfully sketchy, via Bloomberg:

A startup automaker financed by the U.S. government won a regulatory decision that Chrysler Group LLC said will give its competitor a monopoly on selling wheelchair-accessible minivans to transit agencies.

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration’s decision will require local providers of transit services for the disabled to buy vans from Vehicle Production Group LLC unless they present a compelling reason to buy from another producer. …

The decision will help VPG, which also makes other vehicles, gain sales next year as the decision was effective immediately, Walsh said. …

VPG won a $50 million loan in March 2011 from the U.S. Energy Department under an alternative-vehicle development program that’s also backed Ford Motor Co. (F), Nissan Motor Co., Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) and Fisker Automotive Inc.


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