Putting Wind Turbines Out of Wildlife's Way

Harrison Shull / Aurora Photos

Putting Wind Turbines Out of Wildlife's Way

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has issued voluntary federal guidelines to minimize the impact of wind power facilities on wildlife by approving them in the right places. Audubon is doing its part, too.

By Amber Williams
Published: November-December 2011

Allegheny Front (above) Spanning Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, it's an Important Bird Area as well as a migratory pathway for bats. Local Audubon members are actively educating government officials about the dangers to golden eagles, saw-whet owls, and the endangered Indiana bat in the hopes of preventing further industry development there. 

Texas The state is a hotspot for wind power development, including offshore wind farms. Audubon Texas and local chapters have written to regulators asking for more time to investigate the effects on native and migrating birds. 

New Mexico The New Mexico Wind and Wildlife Collaborative, which includes Audubon New Mexico, is working to integrate wildlife management into the state's wind regulations. Nesting grassland birds, including the lesser prairie-chicken, are of special concern. 

Wyoming After mapping crucial habitat for the sage-grouse throughout Wyoming and surrounding states, Audubon and its allies successfully negotiated with wind companies and policy makers to keep turbines out of areas vital to the survival of the threatened species. 

San Diego Closely monitoring wind power projects throughout Southern California, the San Diego Audubon Society is especially concerned about one proposed for McCain Valley, because the area is crucial to migrating birds, including raptors. Audubon has been meeting with both industry and government officials to push for proper siting. 

Oregon Thanks to efforts from local Audubon chapters, the state now has guidelines for wind energy development on the Columbia Plateau. Though voluntary, they are a major step forward in taking bird and bat migratory paths into account when planning new wind developments.

To learn more about Audubon's policy for the siting of wind energy installations, visit bit.ly/NASwind.

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Putting wind turbines out of wildlife's way.

Putting wind turbines out of wildlife's way sounds like a good idea.

Appalachian wind

Almost everyone should be deeply concerned about what is happening in Appalachia because of industrial wind turbines. They represent a misguided, poorly implemented quest for green energy. Wind energy only appears green until one considers the total environmental impact.The bird and bat kills are well documented. The scenic and environmental desecration is obvious. Wind turbines do not produce electricity economically and only exist because our tax dollars are subsidizing the industry while the federal deficit continues to grow at an alarming rate. How many reasons does one need to be against Industrial Wind?

Wind Farm Regulations

A little late for some places. The Allegheny Front that I look across at is covered with them. This is the major migration route for golden eagles. Wind companies raced in before studies were finished. That seems to be the way these companies operate. Habitat fragmentation is a major problem with these wind farms. Since, in the face of climate change, animals and plants need to move, they won't be able to if we cover the Appalachians with wind farms, unless they want to put them where the coal companies have been removing mountaintops. If National Auduon cares about birds and other critters, they need to be more outspoken about the damage wind farms do in the wrong places. As a long time member of Audubon--more than 40 years--I hope you will defend these places. Get behind the American Bird Conservancy and the USFW and speak up loudly. As members, we try to, but frankly, we in Pennsylvania are overwhelmed with industrial wind farms and Marcellus shale gas drilling and we also feel for our West Virginia neighbors also battling mountaintop removal. Are we in the Appalachians to be a sacrifice zone forever?

Anonymous Comments

It is interesting that all wind energy supporters on this post have submitted their comments anonymously.
I agree with many others. The National Audubon needs to stand up an put a stop to this wildlife killing waste of taxpayer money. If thegovernment invested wind energy money on improving proven and reliable energy sources this country would save billions of dollars and lower our overall energy and tax costs.

Wind Turbines

You are exactly right. We have been fighting this issue here along the Great Lakes i.e. Erie and Ontario. The wind turbie capacity factors are very low. Lower yet is the actual value of the wind turbine electricity production. Fortunately we were able to defeat a 150 wind turbine array called Great Lakes Offshore Wind. a.k.a. GLOW. But there are other wind turbine project on the horizon.

National Audubon needs to do more

Notice the article is all about what local chapters are doing, but that isn't enough. We need help from national Audubon to stop the proliferation of industrial wind turbines on forested ridges that are important migratory pathways and critical habitats. Why isn't national Audubon stepping up like the American Bird Conservancy and demanding USFWS bird-smart regulations?

In response to the "Actually, it is the fossil": Supporting industrial wind turbines actually supports the fossil fuel industry. Subsidies that are propping up wind energy should be spent on cleaning up the coal power plants. Subsidies that are wasted on industrial wind should be spent on research and development for rooftop solar - or for other technologies that will replace coal with clean, renewable energy that really works. Industrial wind doesn't work when the wind isn't blowing and wind doesn't work because it is backed by baseload power from coal and nuclear.

Per energy production, wind and solar are the most heavily subsidized.

Actually, it is the fossil

Actually, it is the fossil fuel and nuclear industries that are the most heavily subsidized energy industries in this country. We need more clean renewables like wind and solar to protect our environment for all life. It's good that siting concerns are being addressed. There are many places where wind farms will have less impact on birds and wildlife but all forms of development will have some impact. We need to remember - it's not wind power or NOTHING. In the overall scheme of things, if we want energy, wind power is one of the least harmful to our planet.

Actually, it is the fossil

Actually, it is the fossil fuel and nuclear industries that are the most heavily subsidized energy industries in this country. We need more clean renewables like wind and solar to protect our environment for all life. It's good that siting concerns are being addressed. There are many places where wind farms will have less impact on birds and wildlife but all forms of development will have some impact. We need to remember - it's not wind power or NOTHING. In the overall scheme of things, if we want energy, wind power is one of the least harmful to our planet.

Florida Wind Turbines

I noticed the Florida Wind Turbine Proposal was not mentioned. I applaud Audubon for their efforts to keep birds save from oil rigs, towers, and turbines. I fear however, that won't be enough when considering how heavily subsidized the wind industry is. I do hope for a comprehensive follow up article on this topic.

Thanks!

Actually, it is the fossil

Actually, it is the fossil fuel and nuclear industries that are the most heavily subsidized energy industries in this country. We need more clean renewables like wind and solar to protect our environment for all life. It's good that siting concerns are being addressed. There are many places where wind farms will have less impact on birds and wildlife but all forms of development will have some impact. We need to remember - it's not wind power or NOTHING. In the overall scheme of things, if we want energy, wind power is one of the least harmful to our planet.

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