Amidst a Windy Congress, Some Protections for Birds

David Cassuto (also up in GreenLaw)

I’ve blogged before about the dangers to wildlife from wind turbines.   Well, this just in: yesterday, the Department of the Interior released draft guidelines to protect wildlife from wind turbines  while calling on all involved in the industry to rigorously monitor, assess, and incorporate best practices into their designs.

The guidelines look to promote compliance with the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, as well as other relevant statutes.  They advocate a tiered approach, including preliminary evaluation or screening, site characterization, pre-construction monitoring and assessments, post construction monitoring and assessments, and research. Continue reading

Wind, Birds and the Power Grid

David Cassuto

Let’s be clear: Our hero favors alternative energy, including wind power.   However, nothing is all good and wind turbines kill birds.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that more than 400,000 birds are killed each year by blows from the blades of wind turbines.  And as the Department of Energy moves ahead with its (laudable) goal of transitioning the nation’s power supply to 20% wind power, measures must be taken to protect the avians at risk.  According to the American Bird Conservancy, the golden eagle, whooping crane, and the greater sage-grouse—face “especially severe” threats from wind energy and are most at risk from “poorly planned and sited wind projects.”  The American Wind Energy Association disputes the dimensions of the threat, claiming that “A reasonable, conservative estimate is that of every 10,000 human-related bird deaths in the U.S. today, wind plants cause less than one. The
National Academy of Sciences estimated in 2006 that wind energy is responsible for less than 0.003% of (3 of every 100,000) bird deaths caused by human (and feline) activities.”   Continue reading

The Dirty South? No; More Like Dirty Cleanup Efforts

Douglas Doneson

Early May…

With law school final exams a few days away, keeping up with current events was the last thing on my mind. But this past May, the BP oil spill was literally all over the place. Prior to transplanting to New Orleans for my summer internship, I applied to every volunteer site I could to help clean up oil covered wildlife, restore beaches, and clean the marshes. I expected to be busy every weekend cleaning oil-covered birds and being a part of an all-hand-on-deck effort. In reality, the HAZMAT training, BP certification, and paraprofessional experience kept many potential volunteers away.  I did follow through however, and after completing the HAZMAT training and BP certification online (where I answered 3 or 4 questions about putting on gloves correctly and whether I knew what to do if I became dehydrated), I applied for the more demanding and risky volunteer positions such as handling and cleaning oil covered wildlife.  As a former veterinary technician and zoo keeper I had paraprofessional training too. To my surprise, very few of my emails or phone calls were returned.              Continue reading

Gassed Geese and Airport Safety

David Cassuto

A few days ago, agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture descended on Prospect Park in Brooklyn where they rounded up 400 Canada geese and gassed them to death.  The geese were molting and so could not fly.  The reason for this mass killing was ostensibly airport safety.  You see, Prospect Park lies 6.5 miles from La Guardia and Kennedy airports and the rules say that all geese within 7 miles of an airport must be killed.    Continue reading