Interior Dept. Wind Permit Rule Insufficient to Protect Eagles

"Conservationists are ready to work together on policy reforms and conservation funding mechanisms that ensure eagles are safeguarded from wind energy and every other type of development."

12-06-2013 // Miles Grant

Bald Eagle

The Interior Department is finalizing a new Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act rule that extends the time frame of permits issued to wind energy and other development projects from 5 to 30 years. These permits authorize non-intentional eagle deaths, and extending the permit length effectively restricts the Interior Department’s options for dealing with unanticipated problems.

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

"Climate change is the single biggest threat to America’s wildlife this century.  Wind energy projects, if properly-sited and carefully-operated, are a critical part of the solution. Given all we know about how to achieve a win-win for wind and wildlife, there’s simply no reason to issue a one-sided permitting rule with such inadequate protections for bald and golden eagles.

"Giving a wind project developer a long-term permit to operate in eagle habitat would make sense only if there were a strategy that ensures the long-term health of local eagle populations, including measures to ensure necessary adjustments are made if the project does not work as planned. This rule fails to achieve this kind of balance. Although Congressional budget cuts are certainly partly to blame here, the best way to fix this problem is to make the case for greater investments in conservation, not to take shortcuts with eagle conservation.

"Conservationists are ready to work together on policy reforms and conservation funding mechanisms that ensure eagles are safeguarded from wind energy and every other type of development. We’re asking the Interior Department to come back to the table and do what’s right for wildlife."