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Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, August 16th, 2011.

Energy in America: Dead Birds Unintended Consequence of Wind Power Development



Published August 16, 2011

| FoxNews.com

As California attempts to divorce itself from fossil-fueled electricity, it may be trading one environmental sin for another — although you don’t hear state officials admitting it.

Wind power is the fastest growing component in the state’s green energy portfolio, but wildlife advocates say the marriage has an unintended consequence: dead birds, including protected species of eagles, hawks and owls.

“The cumulative impacts are huge,” said Shawn Smallwood, one of the few recognized experts studying the impact of wind farms on migratory birds. “It is not inconceivable to me that we could reduce golden eagle populations by a great deal, if not wipe them out.”

Windmills Generating Electricity

California supports roughly 2,500 golden eagles. The state’s largest wind farms kill, on average, more than 80 eagles per year. But the state is set to triple wind capacity in the coming years as it tries to become the first state in the nation to generate 33 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2020.

“We would like to have no bird deaths and no bird injuries. But, once again, we have to balance all the needs of society. All the people who want to flip their switch and have electricity in their homes,” said  Lorelei Oviatt, Kern County planning commissioner.

Kern County has identified some 225,000 acres just north of Los Angeles as a prime wind resource area. Unfortunately, the area’s rolling hills and mountains are prime hunting grounds for raptors and a layover spot for migratory birds traveling between Canada and Mexico. The updrafts enjoyed by birds of prey are ideal for generating power.

“I’m not against wind power — it is a viable form of energy generation — but it needs to be developed more carefully,” Smallwood said.

Case in point: In the Bay Area, when activists in the 1980s demanded a cleaner planet, the state responded with the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area. The state-approved wind farm, built with federal tax credits, kills 4,700 birds annually, including 1,300 raptors, among them 70 golden eagles, according to biological reports generated on behalf of the owners.

Smallwood said replacing the small, older turbines with larger blades has cut some species fatalities roughly in half.

Oviatt said Kern County is trying to learn from Altamont’s mistakes.

“We’re requiring full environmental impact reports, which take at least 12 to 18 months,” Oviatt said. “Can I promise that a bird will never be injured or killed? I can’t. But again, we have this tradeoff in society, between the things we need to function as an economy and the fact that we wanna make sure we have an environment for future generations.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/08/16/energy-in-america-dead-birds-unintended-consequence-wind-power-development/#ixzz1VEyUOCSC

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Scott River is flowing high on Aug. 16, 2011

Photos, Scott River & Valley

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DFG on KSYC radio 103.9 FM

KSYC radio

Officials from the California Department of Fish and Game mailed letters to a number of irrigators in Scott Valley asking for a meeting to discuss water flows in streams.

The meeting has become a hot topic in Scott Valley with concerns the state will demand more water for fish.

Mountain snow has melted and Scott Valley creeks are dry.

Irrigators know the little water they have left is not enough to support fish.

— Corky Small KSYC News Director

The meeting is Aug. 16th at the Fort Jones Community Center at 7 p.m.

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