June 22, 2022

Wind energy company pleads guilty to killing eagles | Smart News

ESI has acknowledged the deaths of at least 150 bald and golden eagles at 50 of its 154 wind installations since 2012.
Marion Owen/Design Photos via Getty Images

Wind energy company ESI Energy Inc. (ESI) must pay more than $8 million in fines and restitution and serve five years probation after pleading guilty to violating the Bird Treaty Act migrants, according to a statement published by the United States Department of Justice.

In the United States, ESI is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., one of the world’s largest renewable energy providers, for Reuters“Barbara Goldberg.

The company deliberately chose not to apply for the proper permits for “any unavoidable take of eagles” in Wyoming and New Mexico, according to the DOJ. Under the Migratory Birds Treaty Act“the killing, capture, sale, trade, and transportation of protected migratory bird species without prior authorization from the Department of Interior US Fish and Wildlife Service” is prohibited.

The company has also acknowledged the deaths of at least 150 bald and golden eagles at 50 of its 154 wind installations since 2012. Of those deaths, 136 were attributed to the eagle being struck by a turbine blade .

“Renewable energy is essential in the fight against climate change,” says Mike Parr, president of the American Bird Conservancy, in a statement. “At the same time, measures must be taken to minimize harm to birds. What we see in this case is much-needed liability for avoidable harm to birds by industry, resulting from corporate failure to comply with the law.

While on probation, the company must follow an eagle management plan, which requires up to $27 million for measures to minimize eagle deaths. It will pay $29,623 per additional bald or king eagle killed or injured. ESI must apply for the appropriate permits at its facilities where the unavoidable take of eagles is documented or anticipated.

“For more than a decade, ESI violated (wildlife) laws, taking eagles without obtaining or even applying for the necessary permit,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Environment and Resources Division. natural resources from the Department of Justice in the press release. “We are delighted to see that ESI is now committed to seeking such permits and ending such violations.”

In the 1900s, bald eagles faced severe population declines in the United States due to hunting, habitat loss, and the pesticide DDT. But thanks to decades of conservation efforts, the bird has made a spectacular comeback. In 2007, they were removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened species.

Now about 316,708 bald eagles live in the lower 48 states. Golden eagles only number about 40,000.

But one study Posted in Science earlier this year found that both eagles face another threat that could decrease their numbers: lead. Researchers have found that nearly half of bald eagles and golden eagles in the United States suffer from chronic lead poisoning.

Rebecca Kujawa, president of NextEra Energy, said in a statement that the company has taken no action in violation of federal law; and that the company has a long-standing reputation for environmental protection.

“We disagree with the government’s underlying enforcement activity,” Kujawa said. “Building any structure, driving any vehicle, or flying any aircraft carries a possibility that accidental collisions of eagles and other birds may occur.”