The quest for green energy brings with it a bloody downside for America’s national symbol.
Bald and golden eagles may be legally killed or injured in the thousands by high-speed turbines (reaching speeds up to 170 miles per hour), under new regulations released Wednesday by the Obama administration. The rules, which affect individual wind-energy companies that plan to operate the technology for up to 30 years, allows up to 4,200 of the birds to perish.
Enforcement by federal officials is set to begin in January prior to President Obama’s last day in office.
Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement that officials were trying to find a happy medium between encouraging green energy and adequately protecting the beloved birds.
“No animal says America like the bald eagle,” Mr. Ashe said, The Associated Press reported.
Michael Hutchins of the American Bird Conservancy said he had “serious concerns” of the regulations, but expressed pleasure that companies will be required to hire independent contractors to provide data on bird kills, AP reported.
The U.S. population of bald eagles stands at roughly 143,000, while the Fish and Wildlife Service puts the number of golden eagles at 40,000.
Wednesday’s announcement is not the first time the White House has needed to walk an administrative tightrope on green energy issues. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for instance, released a report in April 2014 saying that solar facilities in California act like “mega traps” for birds.
USFWS’s National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory wrote that doves, hummingbirds, swifts, swallows, hawks, finches, warblers and owls were often killed by flying over solar panel hot spots that can reach over 800 degrees F.
A study of three solar farms in California said 233 different birds from 71 species were found over the study’s two-year span, according to a Fish and Wildlife Service report issued in April.