Sometimes there is a story with no winner and a bunch of losers. In this case, first among the losers are wind energy subsidies squandered on companies that aren't doing much good at all to bridge us to a clean energy future. California likes to brag about both its clean energy subsidies and all the patents it is getting for products that remain not very good, but without government funding they are a non-starter; it is the definition of a fake industry propped up by taxpayers.
But they are not the only losers. Animal activists are, of course, right in there, because they irrationally claim that wind energy is wrong because it kills birds. It's hard to defend wind energy for lots of other science and engineering reasons, unless you live in the 13th century, but on this one they get a pass; sure, wind turbines kill 100,000 birds a year but New York City annually loses that many just in birds that run into windows. And cats wipe out 500,000,000 annually so if activists care so much about flying critters, they shouldn't be going after wind vanes, they should be poisoning cats, like that weird Smithsonian bird researcher Dr. Nico Dauphine did.
San Francisco wind energy company Pattern Energy got a whole bunch of government money to build a 152-megawatt wind farm in Nevada. Even more hypocritically, they got permission to do it on federal land, despite decades of claims that government land should not in any way be exploited by corporate interests - the Obama administration's Department of the Interior makes the tenure of James Watt as Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan years look positively enlightened, environmentally. The $225 million project was completed last year and now has its first meaningful bird casualty; a golden eagle, protected by federal law since 1940.
Due to the accidental death, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has to do a perfunctory 'investigation' and then the company will be slapped with a fine. The fine is supposed to be meaningful to individuals poaching eagles but to a company, it is silly; plus, that money is just coming from taxpayers anyway, who both subsidized the project and now have to pay for the energy from it.
Scott Flaherty, spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s southwestern regional office in Sacramento, Calif., believes they should have been consulted before the farm was even built - which is sort of funny, since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is part of the Department of the Interior, which signed off on letting the company build on federal land in the first place. “We really prefer that wind developers work with the service early on in the process” to identify the best site for a farm and its individual turbines to reduce bird strikes, he told Henry Brean of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Nothing would be more hilarious than trying to build a wind farm where birds don't fly.
The activists groups Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity tried to stop it, of course, using their army of well-paid lawyers. They asked for 'more research', like they do on GMOs, energy and medicine and any science that disagrees with their political beliefs - meaning study it into oblivion. In this case, they didn't like that government scientists found that only 200 birds would die from the wind farm each year - forgetting that 200 is the number of birds that die every 1.3 seconds just in America. So if we build 32 million of these wind farms, birds could be in real trouble. That's a slippery slope, people.
The lawsuit went away when the judge refused to block construction over 200 birds and the company donated $50,000 for a research study of bats in a nearby cave.
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