The Senate Finance Committee recently voted 19-5 to approve a proposed "tax extenders" package that includes an extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit. This move signaled a truly bipartisan effort to provide a stable business environment for the growth of nearly 500 U.S. factories and 75,000 workers in the U.S. wind power industry. Yet major misunderstandings persist about wind power's impact on wildlife ("Wind-energy tax credits fund bird murder," Commentary, Aug. 7).
While birds occasionally collide with the approximately 35,000 wind turbines in the United States, it is estimated that fewer than 200,000 birds are killed annually. In contrast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations estimate that anywhere from 97 million to 976 million birds die annually from collisions with buildings, 60 million or more birds are killed by vehicles and up to 2 million birds are killed in oil and wastewater pits. The truth is that wind energy always will be a small factor in human-caused bird fatalities.
Regarding the Fish and Wildlife Service's 2009 Eagle Permit Rule, wind energy historically has contributed to less than 1 percent of human-related eagle deaths in the United States, and the industry is working diligently to reduce these impacts. The eagle permit is not a wholesale license to kill birds, nor is it specifically designed for the wind industry. Rather, its intent is to provide legal protection to an individual or company for the "take" of an eagle that is incidental to and not the purpose of otherwise legal activity.
Wind energy, which consumes no water and produces no emissions in the generation of electricity, is the least harmful form of energy production available to our society today. The case for extending tax relief for wind power is very clear.
Director of Siting Policy
American Wind Energy Association
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