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Call for public debate on wind power

Posted on 18. April, 2011.

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The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has called for a public debate on the impact of the wind industry on birds.

The call followed a 1 March 2011 press statement by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) that asserted that wind power is not a significant threat to birds. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has estimated that approximately 440,000 birds are already being killed each year by wind turbines, while the AWEA says that the death toll is less than one quarter of this. The ABC expects that wind development kill a minimum of one million birds annually by 2030.

“ABC supports the concept of wind energy,” says Michael Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy. “With just a few reasonable bird-smart accommodations, we could realise the enormous green potential that is waiting to be fully tapped, and we would be happy to work with industry toward that end. But AWEA is doing both the public and those members of the wind industry who are trying to do the right thing a great disservice by concealing the full spectrum of bird impacts. We believe a public debate would help the nation decide what is myth and what is fact,” he says.

The issues with wind go far beyond mortality caused by the turbine blades alone, and include impacts from the power lines that bring wind-generated electricity to the grid and habitat loss from the footprint of the wind farms and associated roads and structures. Power lines are a particular threat for species such as the endangered Whooping Crane and other large birds that are at risk from collisions with the lines. About 20,000 square miles of habitat will be likely lost in the 2030 build-out – larger than the combined areas of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island - which threatens birds such as the Greater Sage-Grouse and other species in the West.

In Picture:  Greater Sage-Grouse. Photo courtesy of Stephen Ting, US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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