Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fact or Hoax?

When I saw this story, I nearly hit the roof. Headline goes:

New Legislation Would Bring Wind Power to 'Grinding Halt'

Oddly enough I just checked out the US congress website and found this piece on H. R 2337

"the “Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007” in an effort to introduce greater accountability in the management of federal energy resources, promote the development of innovative sources of energy, and grapple with the challenges of carbon sequestration and climate change impacts. "

Which quite frankly doesn't sound all bad. It continues:

The “Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007” highlights:·

Title I: Energy Policy Act of 2005 Reforms – Commonsense measures that require energy companies operating on federal lands to develop oil and gas resources in a more responsible way, avoiding conflict with landowners, communities and wildlife.·

Title II: Federal Energy Public Accountability, Integrity and Public Interest – Sensible provisions that ensure Americans are receiving a fair return for the value of the public resources they own.·

Title III: Alternative Energy and Efficiency – Innovative proposals that provide 21st century solutions to our Nation’s 21st century energy challenges, as the country works to meet the goals of energy independence and chart a new frontier in alternative energy development.·

Title IV: Carbon Capture and Climate Change Mitigation – Practical measures that address climate change by promoting technologies such as geological and terrestrial carbon sequestration, paving the way for the responsible management and proactive planning that will conserve our natural resources and wildlife for generations to come.

This bit actually sounds sensible...which makes me worry about either my reading skills or how truly twisted the legislative process is.

I emailed the AWEA to see if they could shed some light on the matter since I could not find a press release from AWEA on the topic on their website.

Let's see what comes of it.

Update 5/23 12:30 pm: Sadly this appears to be fact. It seemed so extreme I couldn't believe it yesterday but here it is: (special thanks to Lou over at The Cost of Energy for traking this bill language down).

According to the specific bill language found at
about 40% of the way down the bill, Under Article II innocuosly named

Title II: Federal Energy Public Accountability, Integrity and Public Interest
Subtitle D--Ensuring Safety of Wildlife With Respect to Wind Energy
but especially
is where all the wording exists to torpedo wind as the cleanest power source in America.

And I was also able to find the notice on the AWEA Legislative action web site urging action to remove subtitle D from the legislation.

This whole subtiltle D is predicated on the myth that windturbines kill lots of birds.

First of all, a very early wind project was located directly in a migratory bird path (Altimont Pass CA) before anyone was aware that turbines might kill birds. The Altimont Pass windfarm has ungraded its turbines so they no longer kill as many birds. The wind industry has worked closely with environmental groups to minimize the impact of wind farms on birds ever since (through better turbine design and not putting wind farms in major migratory routes).

And the industry has done such a good job that both the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society support wind power.

"The Sierra Club believes that data and observations from wind facilities at locations worldwide indicate that proper siting and design of wind turbines can greatly reduce harmful impacts on birds, animals and plants. Further, the Club believes that there should be appropriate sites for wind power in most general regions of the United States."

In the November-December installment of the magazine, Flicker wrote a column stating that Audubon "strongly supports wind power as a clean alternative energy source," pointing to the link between global warming and the birds and other wildlife that scientist say it will kill. The venerable environmental organization and avian champion was now on record as embracing wind power.

The endorsement makes a lot of sense, once the facts surrounding the issue are put in proper perspective. Birds are over 10,000 times more likely -- at least -- to be killed by other human-related causes (e.g., by buildings, vehicles, pet cats, pesticides, etc.) than by a wind turbine; put another way, for every 10,000 birds killed by such human activities, less than one death is caused by a wind turbine.


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