California’s legislative Democrats are jamming a bill through to authorize the killing of Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles and other protected raptors, occurring at wind and solar farms throughout the state, all under the guise of helping enable statewide infrastructure projects.
On behalf of the green agenda, a placeholder spot bill, officially now Senate Bill 147 by Sen. Angelique Ashby (D-Sacramento) has prioritized intermittent green energy over wildlife. And it is an “urgency” bill; urgency clause bills go into effect immediately upon their enactment.
What is the “urgency?”
SB 147 will “authorize the Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue a permit under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) that would authorize ‘the take’ of a fully protected species resulting from impacts attributable to the implementation of specified projects if certain conditions are satisfied, including, among others, the conditions required for the issuance of an incidental take permit.”
“Take” includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy molest or disturb. Activities that directly or indirectly lead to “taking” are prohibited without a permit, according to the American Eagle Foundation.
But with a permit, one can shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy molest or disturb a Golden Eagle or Bald Eagle apparently.
SB 147 will allow competing environmental factions on the left to kill off eagles in the name of saving the planet. Who spoke on behalf of the eagles?
Last year, the Washington Post reported on eagles being killed at an alarming rate by “clean energy” wind turbines. “An American wind energy company has admitted to killing at least 150 bald and golden eagles, most of which were fatally struck by wind turbine blades, federal prosecutors said,” the Post reported. “ESI Energy pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) after eagles died at three of its facilities in Wyoming and New Mexico, according to a statement from the Justice Department.”
Here is the crux of the legal issue:
They push a bill which “Authorizes the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to issue a permit that would authorize the ‘take’ of a fully protected species…” to help enable statewide infrastructure projects.
Specifically, the bill names:
- Wind projects, and any appurtenant infrastructure improvements, and associated electric transmission projects carrying electric power from a facility that is located in the state to a point of junction with any California-based balancing authority; and
- e) Solar photovoltaic projects, and any appurtenant infrastructure improvements, and associated California-based balancing authority.
Perhaps even worse, there is no opposition to the bill by the hundreds of environmental organizations which lobby lawmakers daily at the Capitol, as this page from the Senate analysis shows.
In the case of ESI Energy, the company will pay $29,623 for each bald or golden eagle killed by its turbine blades in the future. “ESI has since acknowledged that at least 150 bald and golden eagles have died at 50 of its 154 wind farms over the past decade and that 136 of the deaths occurred when the birds flew into a turbine blade, prosecutors said.”
So as long as the wind turbine producers pay $30,000 per dead eagle, the dead bird is “mitigated,” and the government collects the money. Mitigate means to “assuage,” “mollify” or “diminish.”
The Smithsonian reported that ESI must also follow an “Eagle Management Plan,” which “requires up to $27 million for measures to minimize eagle deaths.”
The scheme is in the “mitigation plan.” Where does the permit and fine money go, and why aren’t environmentalists screaming about this? Sierra Club? Nature Conservancy? Audubon Society (they are committed to working on racism)? Anyone? Environment California says it “works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate.” What about the wildlife?
The American Eagle Foundation gives the background of the Endangered Species Act:
Originally passed in 1940, this law provides for the protection of the bald eagle and the golden eagle (amended in 1962) by prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export, or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit.
Bald eagles were removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007, and are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act. However, bald eagles remain protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“Wind turbines are a known killer of numerous species of birds, including eagles. At their tips, the blades can spin up to 200 mph,” the Post reported. “Research shows that between 140,000 and 328,000 birds are killed each year at monopole turbines in the United States, with an increase risk of death the higher the turbines.”
That’s a lot of dead birds.
The Globe learned SB 147 will help project developers (primarily Department of Water Resources, Caltrans and other local transportation agencies, as well as a few private wind and solar developers) with the regulatory hurdle of dealing with incidental take of fully protected species.
Renewable energy companies must apply for a permit with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and pay a permit fee to the wildlife agency. “The permit provides for the development and implementation, in cooperation with DFW and applicable federal and state agencies, of a monitoring program and an adaptive management plan that satisfy the conservation standard of the NCCP Act for monitoring the effectiveness of the measures to minimize and fully mitigate the impacts of the authorized take,” Senate bill analysis says.
The environment and wildlife don’t get the same priority treatment when the state wants to approve its own projects, or grease the skids for others.
The State’s Fully Protected Birds Species list currently includes:
American peregrine falcon
California black rail
California clapper rail
California least tern
Greater sandhill crane
Light-footed clapper rail
Southern bald eagle
Yuma clapper rail