- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2012

Wind power remains one of the most proactive industries when it comes to the protection of the wildlife affected by its operations, and that includes eagles (“American consumers pay dearly to go green,” Commentary, Tuesday).

The eagle take permit is not a wholesale license to kill birds, and is not specifically designed for the wind industry. Rather it is intended to provide legal protection to an individual or company - whether it be wind energy, oil-and-gas, etc. - for an eagle fatality that is incidental to and not the purpose of an otherwise legal activity, including energy production.

This protection is made available under carefully controlled conditions. To obtain an eagle permit a wind-farm developer or owner/operator cannot simply apply for a permit. They must evaluate the proposed wind project holistically to assess the risk to eagles, and then take steps through avoidance and minimization to reduce the potential for take, including changing the layout of the proposed wind farm to reduce the risk.

If the threat of eagle mortality continues to exist after those efforts are made, the developer or operator must compensate for fatalities and ensure there is no net loss to the eagle population.

This is a very high standard to achieve and puts significant pressure upon wind farm owners/operators to minimize their impacts to the greatest extent practicable. To obtain a permit, project developers and owners are also required to monitor for impacts after the project is constructed and report any fatalities to the service. Wind farms may also be required to consider additional mitigation, including changing how the turbines are operated, in the event of continued impacts.

Further, with respect to the permit duration, the proposal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would merely make the permit available under the Eagle Act consistent with the life of project permits under the Endangered Species Act, which is considered the gold standard law for wildlife protection.

JOHN ANDERSON

Director, Siting Policy

American Wind Energy Association

Washington