Report from Washington
According to a recent Associated Press (AP) story picked up by the Roanoke Times, “The Obama administration is revising a federal rule that allows wind-energy companies to operate high-speed turbines for up to 30 years, even if it means killing or injuring thousands of federally protected bald and golden eagles.”
The story continues, “Under the plan announced Wednesday, wind companies and other power providers could kill or injure up to 4,200 bald eagles a year without penalty—nearly four times the current limit.”
While these eagles are not currently endangered, they are protected under laws prohibiting the killing, selling, or otherwise harming of the eagles, their nests, or their eggs without a permit.
Among the interesting items in the AP story is that there is little information on the impact of wind farms on the eagle population. “Reporting of eagle mortality is voluntary,” the story notes, “and the Interior Department refuses to release the information.”
The AP also reports that, “The permits would be reviewed every five years, and companies would have to submit reports of how many eagles they kill.” The AP did not report that this new kill limit would affect other industries as well, but I believe it reached the correct conclusion that the rule will predominantly benefit wind energy.
The announcement starts a 60-day comment period, with officials planning to issue a final rule in the fall.
I can’t help but recall that several years ago as part of its War on Coal, the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued conductivity guidance (later struck down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia) relying in large part on one study which found that certain mayfly populations (out of the thousands of mayfly species known worldwide) are especially sensitive to conductivity levels. Conductivity measures the ability of water to transport an electrical current.
The EPA’s conductivity test did not go through the Administrative Procedures Act. The agency was overstepping its statutory authority under the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Further, I believe its guidance was also unscientific and harmful.
Before the conductivity guidance was struck down, I offered an amendment that would have rescinded funding for the conductivity test and would have helped to get the EPA off of the backs of coal producers. I was glad to see this guidance be ruled unlawful.
I can’t recall a time I’ve been to an animal facility that either rehabilitates or raises mayflies for introduction into the wild. But because it is our national symbol and because of the value we place on them, such facilities exist for eagles.
In fact, when we go to Dollywood, my kids and I love to see the eagles that have been injured and nourished back to health but are not capable of fending for themselves in the wild. Dollywood has plenty of them. They don’t need the wind industry creating more injured bald eagles.
If it weren’t for the bias of the Administration against coal and for wind, this slaughter of bald eagles would not be allowed. Can you imagine Central Appalachian coal producers proposing to kill even a hundred bald eagles for the production of coal? Can you imagine coal-fired power plants being allowed to kill a thousand bald eagles?
The answer of course is that the EPA would never allow such a thing. But in their mind, wind and solar can do little wrong.
It disturbs me that EPA policies seem to reflect the view that, “God forbid a coal mine kill a mayfly, but sure, eagles may be slain or maimed in the name of wind energy.”
So whack the birds, fry the birds, kill the birds…For wind and solar, EPA’s judgment has been blurred.
As part of the ongoing fight against opioid abuse, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and I recently introduced the Curb Opioid Misuse by Advancing Technology (COMBAT) Act, (H.R. 5127), which would help to see that opioids are made more difficult to abuse.
My colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Committee have passed a number of bipartisan bills as part of our ongoing efforts to combat this crisis, and the full House of Representatives is expecting to consider opioid bills this month. We must diligently continue our important fight against this growing epidemic.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at (276) 525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at (540) 381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.