“Shiloh IV was handed a permit because they know agents like Lucinda Schroder and Sam Jojola are not around to hold them accountable for their lies and their slaughter. Actually, if agents now working for the FWS were not being handcuffed by Washington, wind farm companies would never even consider asking for an eagle kill permit. We would also have far more eagles, whooping cranes, and other rare species.”
The Shiloh IV Wind Project, a 3,500-acre wind farm near Rio Vista, California has received the first-ever permit that would allow for the deaths of five golden or bald eagles over a five-year period without the wind farm’s operators being penalized. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has conservatively estimated the impact of up to five eagles.
Shiloh IV is only part of a larger wind resource area. It’s expected that eagles will be killed in these other sections. In fact every time a Shiloh turbine kills an eagle the company will have every opportunity to haul the carcass off to another section of this wind resource area so they can stay within their five eagles/five-year permit. Or worse yet not even report it like most of the wind farms do in Texas.
This permit is completely unenforceable, and it’s highly inconceivable that the company will purposely expose itself to federal prosecution if its turbines kill more than five eagles within a five-year period. Considering the massive potential for bird fatalities that turbines present, it’s ludicrous to think that the impact will be limited to five eagles in five years. Common sense dictates that the threat to eagles and birds is much greater.
In the past some wind power projects has been required to monitor and report mortality, but it’s well known that their reports have been highly manipulated to show few fatalities. There has never been and still will not be any wind industry accountability for the true slaughter that has occurred for decades.
This is why former FWS special agent Lucinda Schroeder wrote Comments (p. 199) against the Shiloh IV kill permit. She was the first special agent to successfully take on an electric power company for violations of the MBTA and the BEPA.
Thirty-five years ago, she found that countless numbers of electrocuted birds were being buried and their deaths grossly under-reported. As the result of several successful prosecutions power companies were forced to mount protective guards on power poles so bird wings would not come into contact with hot wires. The installation of these guards is now a nation-wide practice.
Recently I received an e-mail from Lucinda with additional thoughts:
I see the same ‘inverted triangles’ that I helped devise back in 1979. They’re everywhere. I know they have saved a lot of birds. In fact I just learned of a death of a female eagle that was 30 years old. She was banded and had survived living amongst the power poles in the West all these years!
So, imagine how I feel about eagles and other birds being indiscriminately slaughtered by wind power, which produces so little to our national energy needs (some 3%) at the expense of our precious wildlife. It makes me sick!
I totally support you and really appreciate you speaking out! I wish we could get this stopped somehow……
Lucinda’s Shiloh IV Wind Project DEA Comments
These comments are based on my 30-career as a special agent with the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement. In 1979, I was the first agent to take a power company (Utah Power and Light) to court for violating the MBTA and the BEPA for what the company claimed was the “incidental take” of eagles and other migratory birds. Fortunately, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City agreed that there was nothing in our nation’s conservations laws that allowed “incidental take” and opined that the whole-sale slaughter of birds by power companies was illegal.
Since then, the majority of power companies have come into compliance with preventing the loss of protected bird species on power lines. Everywhere you look you can see modified power poles and lines designed to protect migratory birds. The Service went on to enforce bird conservation laws on trona concentration ponds(Industrial wastewater impoundments), gold mines, oil pits, and anywhere where birds were being killed indiscriminately. The Service has historically maintained a hard line in enforcing the conservation laws already in place—so-called “incidental take” was not tolerated.
Wind power has presented a 21st Century conservation challenge that the Service seems to be ready to fold on. A five-year pass (permit) will only serve as precedence for other wind power companies to follow. If the Service shows a weakness at the first light, it will never be able to go back and maintain its presence as a solid constituent for migratory birds. Arguing over whether wind power is economically justified is not the point. But killing wildlife indiscriminately has no justification and the Service is the only agency that can make this point in a meaningful way.
If the Service allows Shiloh IV permission to kill protected birds, this will open the doors for all power companies, including traditional ones, to argue that their mishaps with bird fatalities are also “justified” as “incidental take.” This will happen no matter whatever good intentions these companies implore. Don’t let them take you out to lunch and tell you what to do. Hold the hard line!
Look into the future, way into the future, and into the past, and where we have been. Those of us who worked in the Service during the past forty years vigorously enforced the conservation laws protecting all migratory birds. We had no idea that we’d be turning our efforts over to a new generation of overseers who are apparently willing sit by and allow giant blades chop up birds the Service is charged to protect.
I completely understand that the situation is complex and should have been dealt with a long time ago—when wind power was in its infancy. I actually saw this coming. But it’s here and now it the time to DEAL with it, and not give in. A permit is the first act of giving in. Please don’t this. Please consider all other options.
Lucinda Schroeder (FWS Special Agent, retired)
Buried in over 100 pages submitted in support of this project, s comments demonstrate that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can enforce federal conversation laws. Why should wind energy companies be the exception?
Former USFWS special agent Sam Jojola reported his work in the field enforcing the law as it pertained to migratory bird deaths to cyanide deaths used in gold mines. They weren’t given a permit to kill. Shiloh IV was handed a permit because they know agents like Lucinda Schroder and Sam Jojola are not around to hold them accountable for their lies and their slaughter.
Actually, if agents now working for the FWS were not being handcuffed by Washington, wind farm companies would never even consider asking for an eagle kill permit. We would also have far more eagles, whooping cranes, and other rare species.
Rigging the Game
In the comments that were submitted for the Shiloh IV project were also three bogus studies. These three reports, surveys, or so called studies have been widely circulated and took up the majority of the content that was submitted. None of these are valid and none should have been submitted. I have addressed two of these studies one in 2010 and another in 2013 .
The third report was from Tetra Tech “AWEA Report on Eagle Citations, Next Location and Fatalities.” This report is also bogus because it uses the wind industry’s typical flawed methodology, ignores vital information, and includes rigged data obtained from wind industry studies. In addition I have reviewed two other Tetra Tech studies, on a turbine mortality reported from Hatchet Ridge another study submitted for an off-shore project on Lake Erie . Both of these studies were also highly flawed.
The public needs to understand that when it comes to legal proceedings, as long as bogus testimony is submitted, no matter how ludicrous, those in power can choose to support it. This is exactly what took place with the approval of the Shiloh IV wind project eagle killing permit. Fraudulent data and bogus studies were submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as justification to “take” a few birds in exchange for energy, when in fact the killing is much worse, will never be reported, and amounts to an outright slaughter.
Is this what the American public wants? How is it that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has successfully enforced federal conversation laws on electric companies, trona mines, oil pits, gold mines, and every other environmental detriment to wildlife, with only one exception? Wind power—which has the potential of doing more damage (species extinction) than all other environmental hazards put together.
The fact is, serious mitigation measures were never considered. Now is the time to expose wind power for what it is and force serious mitigation measures based upon honest research that will protect our wildlife resources. New reliable studies need to be conducted to determine the true impacts coming to bald eagle populations, devastating impacts that have been hidden. Sadly, golden eagle populations have already been decimated by wind turbines and this also needs to be documented.
This is Part 2. More to come.
Image at the top: Red Kite, killed by wind turbine in Germany.