EDITORIAL: The Gulf’s bird toll

Windmills slaughter more than oil spill

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While several million gallons of crude oil have poured into the Gulf of Mexico since April, nature has been far more resilient than environmental doomsayers would like. The left is counting on images of oiled pelicans and lingering devastation to build urgency for unpopular policies like “cap-and-trade.” Nature is refusing to cooperate, and the so-called environmentalists are proving to be the true hazard.

President Obama, criticized for the lax federal response to the spill, is eager to put the incident behind him. On Saturday, the White House released a photograph of the commander in chief frolicking in the sheltered waters at Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Fla. The message is that the Gulf is back in business.

In some respects, it is. According to the latest figures, cleanup crews have collected 6,286 birds impacted by the spill. A total of 4,359 were found dead, and 1,927 were alive but covered in oil. A good deal of luck kept these numbers far below those seen in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. The Deepwater Horizon explosion happened much farther from shore, in warmer waters, with the force of the Mississippi River offering some protection to the coastal marsh zone.

“As tragic as it is to have this many birds affected, either dead or injured … a couple months ago we were fearing for the worst, and this is a pretty low number, all things considered,” Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman David Patte told The Washington Times. The effort is far from over, as fall migration season draws closer and teams race to clean up as much of the remaining oil as possible before an estimated 30 million birds descend on the region.

The death toll of the “worst environmental disaster in history” pales in comparison to the carnage wrought in the name of environmentalism. For example, the Altamont Pass, Calif., wind farm’s cruel blades pulverize 4,700 birds each year, according to the National Audubon Society. Victims of this green power plant include golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels and burrowing owls. The windmill industry defends itself by claiming newer turbine blades turn more slowly, making it less likely that Tweety will meet his maker. It may only change the victim. According to a 2008 study of the high-tech wind farm in Judith Gap, Mont., the project’s 90 turbines killed fewer birds, 406, but three times as many bats - 1,206.

The impact of the Gulf oil spill on tourism and the fishing and shrimp industries cannot be denied, but the wounds will soon heal. Environmentalism’s avian holocaust will continue - 33,000 birds annually, according to a 2002 Fish and Wildlife Service estimate - until government pulls the plug on subsidies for inefficient, unnecessary and deadly windmills.

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