The White House said Friday it will issue permits to wind farms that kill or injure eagles typically protected under federal law. In exchange, the companies must take measures to avoid injuring the birds and report the number of birds they do kill. Currently, such record keeping is voluntary and the Interior Department has never revealed how many of the birds are killed.
The massive, spinning wind turbines have been shown to injure and kill the iconic bald eagles, which were removed from the endangered species list in 2007 but are still protected by two federal laws. Golden eagles, which are protected by the same laws, have also been killed by the massive turbines, which tower up to 30-stories high and spin at up to 170 miles per hour at their tips.
The permits mark a balancing act by President Barack Obama, who has championed green efforts like wind farms while accepting some environmental impact as trade-offs.
Conservation groups were quick to criticize the change. Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold said in a statement, “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check.” The group said it plans to challenge the new policy.