THE OREGONIAN - The Associated Press - SEP 30, 2022
The Biden administration has proposed a new permitting program for wind energy turbines, power lines and other projects that kill eagles, amid growing concern among scientists that the rapid expansion of renewable energy in the U.S. West could harm golden eagle populations now teetering on decline.
The Fish and Wildlife Service program announced Thursday is meant to encourage companies to work with officials to minimize harm to golden and bald eagles.
It’s also aimed at avoiding any slowdown in the growth of wind power as an alternative to carbon-emitting fossil fuels — a key piece of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda. It comes after several major utilities have been federally prosecuted in recent years for killing large numbers of eagles without permits.
The federal government already issues permits to kill eagles. But Thursday’s proposal calls for new permits tailored to wind-energy projects, power line networks and the disturbance of breeding bald eagles and bald eagle nests.
Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said the new program would provide “multiple pathways to obtain a permit” while also helping conserve eagles, which she described as a key responsibility for the agency.
Bald eagle numbers have quadrupled since 2009 to about 350,000 birds. There are only about about 40,000 golden eagles, which need much larger areas to survive and are more inclined to have trouble with humans.
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