Can an environmentalist morally argue for overpriced, taxpayer-funded green energy technology if it means killing off a protected species? That’s what is happening now in California, where the state’s Golden Eagles are dying off by 67 each year from colliding with the blades of wind turbines.
As government demands for more turbines and green wind energy technology increase, many fear that Golden Eagles may soon be at risk for extinction.
According to the Institute for Energy Research, wind turbines provide only ½ of 1% of America’s energy. Additionally, green energy technology like wind turbines typically cost more. In fact, the Department of Energy’s budget has increased by 76% in the past 10 years – in part to accommodate a huge increase in green energy methods.
In a recent paper by Heritage’s Nick Loris, he notes that the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) funds research and development of what the government deems “clean energy technologies” – including wind energy. But the office is a multi-million dollar expense we can’t afford. As Loris writes, “The private sector is much better at allocating resources and developing energy technologies than government-directed initiatives.”
And it’s not just the expense that is cause for concern. Citizens living near turbines often dislike the noise and the look of the huge contraptions. Even supporters of the green energy found in wind turbines aren’t pleased with the view they provide. In 2006, late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) attempted to kill a wind farm project being built near his family’s Cape Cod home.
The bird killing is not just in a secluded section of California either. Similar phenomena are happening nationwide where wind turbines exist.
Nearly 444,000 birds are reportedly killed at wind farms around the country each year – including more protected animals like the California Candor, whose species has been valued at millions of dollars to protect.
While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has requested that the turbines be turned off during times of heavy bird migration, that solution isn’t likely to solve the problem as more and more wind turbines turn up around the country.
The government continues to fund wind turbine building through tax subsidies and state government mandates but the financial cost and wildlife sacrifice needs a re-evaluation — before our money and a few species are gone.