Tilting at windmills

In December 2013, the Obama administration gave the wind farm industry a 30-year pass for killing protected golden and bald eagles and whatever other species of God's winged creatures are unfortunate enough to get sucked into the irresistible vortexes created by wind turbine blades – with wingspans of almost 300 feet that can spin in excess of 150 mph at the tips.

According to a 2016 article from the Audubon Society, "Wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year in North America, making it the most threatening form of green energy."  The article cites efforts by which the wind turbine industry is attempting to reduce the carnage – for example, not placing wind farms on well known flight paths, painting the blades purple instead of white, trying to make them look like trees (?), utilizing bright lights, etc.  Sounds like a work in progress.

In his 2010 book Power Hungry, energy expert Robert Bryce speaks of power density, where he compares the amount of the energy produced by various sources in terms of horsepower per acre or wattage per square meter.  For example, an average U.S. natural gas well produces 287.5 hp/acre, versus 148.5 hp/acre for an oil stripper well (producing 10 bbls/day); 6.4 hp/acre for the average wind farm; 36 hp/acre for solar PV; and last and most certainly least, 0.25 hp/acre for corn ethanol (pg. 86).

In addition to chewing up large tracts of land, wind turbines require prodigious amounts of copper and, in some cases, copious amounts of rare earth metals like neodymium for the magnets and coils.  According to Bryce, however, the most controversial aspect of wind and solar is the tens of thousands of miles of right of way, amounting to thousands of square miles of territory, required to accommodate the power transmission lines.  It is not difficult to identify numerous lawsuits that have already been filed against power companies by environmental and citizen groups against such transmission lines.

Writing for National Review in June, 2016, Mr. Bryce said the wind energy sector most recently enjoyed $176 billion in subsidies.

Is it merely quixotic to suggest that there is something that could be done relatively quickly to put the brakes on this juggernaut?

What one president giveth, another can taketh away.

Donald Trump could rescind Barack Obama's get out of jail free card to the wind turbine industry and hold the industry fully liable for killing protected birds.  Fish and Wildlife has a formidable reputation for strictly enforcing these laws that have been on the books for decades.  Save the birds!  Equal protection for our feathered friends, and let the chips fall where they may.

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