Selective enforcement of wildlife laws

Selective enforcement of laws to achieve pre-determined policy results undermines equal protection and invites official corruption. So when IRS agents grilled Tea Party-ers, everyone, including President Obama, was appalled. He said that if government agencies were operating “in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous, it is contrary to our traditions.”

Well, it is definitely against the law to kill eagles, hawks and especially condors. And that law is enforced against oil fields, utility companies and others. But the Obama administration says those laws will no longer be applied – if you are a wind farm.

According to an investigation by Dina Cappiello of the Associated Press, more than a half-million birds are killed each year by wind farms, including more than 80,000 eagles, falcons and other raptors, yet federal officials have not written a single citation. In fact, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is paving the path for more avian carnage by –

  • Handing out “take’ permits that last for 30 years (instead of the usual five), in effect, generation-long “get out of jail” cards for industrial-scale bird dicing;
  • Exacting no penalties for exceeding even these hyper-generous take limits and providing no incentive for wind firms to minimize mortality; and
  • Treating reported bird deaths as confidential business information that is not made public.
The Fish & Wildlife Service even announced it was issuing take permits for highly- endangered condors to wind farms. The agency did not see the irony in celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act within the same week.

As the AP made clear, all these actions were taken by political appointees overriding the objections of Fish & Wildlife scientists. In fact, this scientific suppression is playing out every day in proposed new wind farms, where operators are not required to submit data on bird migrations for desired turbine sites. That means that toll exacted by wind farms on eagles, hawks and other birds will only grow.

The only cure to this imbalance is to end the suppression of the avian experts and harness their expertise. That is the role of PEER. Please help us perform it. Sincerely,

Jeff Ruch
Executive Director

P.S. PEER supports “clean” energy, but the true costs must be disclosed and needless resource depletion avoided. If not, we will fight regardless of whether some deem us politically incorrect.

P.P.S. Also in the unequal protection department, we saw EPA dismiss our complaint about illegal conflict of interest connections between top Florida state regulators and industry. EPA said the main complaint was “moot” because the conflict “look-back” period was only two years long and more time than that had elapsed. But guess who sat on the PEER complaint for more than two years – EPA, the inert moot-maker.