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EDITORIAL: For ‘green’ energy liberals, windmills trump endangered species

The administration turns an uncaring eye toward the extinction of some species

- - Thursday, March 6, 2014

Liberals insist on saving the shiny pigtoe, the Virginia fringed snail and the duskytail darter. No expense should be spared if it means preserving an obscure insect or a curious mussel.

But red-cockaded woodpeckers, that's different. When a windmill to generate "renewable" energy proposes to set up shop near a bird sanctuary, endangering those woodpeckers with spinning turbine blades, the tune changes to "off with their heads."

A trio of Republican senators are badgering the Environmental Protection Agency and the Fish and Wildlife Service to act with a semblance of consistency. Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma and Mike Crapo of Idaho noticed that the EPA didn't bother to consult with the Interior Department when it wrote the latest global-warming rule for regulating power plants, as the law requires.

"In their zeal to fulfill the goals of the President's Climate Action Plan," wrote the senators to the agencies, "EPA and the Fish & Wildlife Service may be tempted to overlook the existing protections for the environment embodied in the [Endangered Species Act (ESA)]. Their failure to appropriately conduct an ESA consultation would lead to dire results for protected species and their habitat."

Daniel M. Ashe heads the Fish & Wildlife Service, which is responsible for maintaining the list of animal and plant species threatened with extinction, and he wasn't consulted on the new power-plant rules.

He told a Senate committee last week that it was up to the EPA to call him to discuss how to "avoid and minimize the take of endangered species." "Take" is the bloodless euphemism used to describe what happens when a bird flies into the sharp blades of a spinning windmill.

Birds perish by the tens of thousands every year as the price of wind power, and solar panels are almost as deadly. The new Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California uses 300,000 mirrors to concentrate and focus the rays of the sun to generate electricity.

This generates 1,000-degree temperatures that cook birds and any other creatures unfortunate enough to stray near the site, which sprawls across 3,500 acres.

Liberals look the other way lest it interfere with the relentless support of any energy sources branded "green." The administration is ruthless in enforcing the rules.

The threat to whooping cranes, interior least terns, American burying beetles, Northern swift fox, greater sage grouse, piping plovers, pallid sturgeons and black-footed ferrets have all been used to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which goes out of its way to avoid sensitive environmental areas.

This is unfair, because a pipeline does not assault God's creatures the way some other energy sources do.

The administration is using a "sue and settle" scheme to add more species to the endangered list, which puts more private land off-limits to private development. Owners of affected properties are denied consideration.

The EPA's "stationary source" rule is most brutal of all. It imposes unattainable carbon-dioxide emission standards that were specially crafted by administration zealots eager to put coal plants out of business.

Eliminating one of the cheapest and most reliable alternatives to windmills and solar panels is a big boost to the "renewable" power industry — and that's very bad news for birds.