Don’t worry, they are only talking about “programmatic” killing. Via Lachlan Markay at the Foundry:

A draft regulation first filed in April would allow businesses to apply for 30-year permits allowing them to kill bald eagles in the course of other legal activities. The length of those permits would be a six-fold increase over the five-year window allowed under current law.

The USFWS explains at

“We have reviewed applications from proponents of renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar power facilities, for programmatic permits to authorize eagle take that may result from both the construction and ongoing operations of renewable energy projects. During our review, it became evident that the 5-year term limit imposed by the 2009 regulations (see 50 CFR 22.26(h)) needed to be extended to better correspond to the timeframe of renewable energy projects.”

Current law allows permitting for “programmatic” killing of bald eagles, which “is recurring, is not caused solely by indirect effects, and that occurs over the long term or in a location or locations that cannot be specifically identified.”

The USFWS notes that permits “may authorize lethal take that is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity, such as mortalities caused by collisions with rotating wind turbines.”

At the risk of over-sensationalizing this, legally-sanctioned, “programmatic” killing sounds an awful lot like a euphemism for…genocide. And I suppose it is, at least from the perspective of the eagles, if they had one anyway. But I suppose it should also be noted that the only reason this sort of regulation is even necessary is because the bald eagle is a protected species under federal law. And if they weren’t, they could be slaughtered by wind farms at-will, no permit required. You know, like the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of birds from other non-protected species which meet an untimely fate on the blade of a wind turbine each year.

I really wonder if this were put up to a vote how many Americans would be willing to condone the slaughter of these birds given that current levels of wind generation account for barely over 2% of electricity generation here in the U.S.? Certainly not a majority, I’d wager, and that’s without even adding in the higher financial costs of producing and delivering this energy. This is why government bureaucrats use euphemisms like “programmatic taking” when discussing this ugliness, or just avoid the topic altogether if they can.

By the way, any guesses as to whether there might be other forms of energy production which avoid this issue all together? From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (pdf):

What types of projects would need a programmatic permit?

We anticipate issuing programmatic permits for wind, solar, and other energy projects, as well as electric utilities, timber operations, and others. We expect that most oil and gas operations are better able to take measures to prevent ongoing eagle mortalities, so we do not expect many will need to seek permits. However, permits may be issued to any type of entity that cannot avoid taking eagles.