The New Wind Energy Debate



Bald Eagles have to migrate towards the south in the winter in order to nest.

Recently, wind energy companies have been under fire because they are killing birds.
The American Eagle Foundation has said that “Wind turbines present an ever present danger to not only eagles and other birds of prey, but also to any migratory bird that passes through areas where wind turbine farms have been constructed.” These disruptions in bird populations can result in danger for animals of other species. The ethics behind wind turbines have left environmentalists in a turmoil of arguments

Many who are against wind turbines are frustrated with wind companies using lazily established equipment. According to Robert Johns, a director of the American Bird Conservancy, “Poorly sited and operated wind projects pose a serious threat to birds, especially birds of prey such as Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, hawks, and owls.” This is where environmentalists disagree because some are for sustainable energy, while others would rather prioritize the environment. While turbines are supposed to improve the environment, it can destroy habitats by killing birds of prey. Food chains can collapse when a secondary consumer like an owl is not there to feed off of their prey.

Some of those who are for wind turbines claim that people are exaggerating the effects windmills have on birds. Hillary Watts, a member of High Country News, stated that “According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind turbines account for only one out of every 5,000 to 10,000 human-caused bird kills nationwide.” Another common belief is that birds have other dangers like illegal poaching. Some rebuttal that claim by saying that the main issue regarding the windmills is that they are killing Bald Eagles. Killing a Bald Eagle is a felony and the consequences of the crime can double for organizations.

There are some organizations that choose to remain indifferent when it comes to the dividing issue of poorly constructed wind turbines. The National Audubon Society said that, “Audubon strongly supports wind energy that is sited and operated properly to avoid, minimize, and mitigate effectively for the impacts on birds, other wildlife, and the places they need now and in the future.” Some environmentalists that are against poor turbines become angered by the lack of support they get from these organizations. It is a common belief amongst those people that the government will prioritize wind energy over the health of habitats. Indifferent opinionated organizations hope that the criticism major wind companies face will convince them to fix their controversial issue.

Possible solutions to the issue are being proposed by some organizations. According to the Sierra Club, “While the toll from turbines is far from a major cause of bird mortality, it’s not negligible and will increase as more wind turbines are operating, so the American Bird Conservancy and wind energy experts are working to reduce the rate (e.g. see No blade wind turbines).” These solutions will most likely be slowly implemented throughout the United States. Sierra Club is also stating that they believe the wind turbines are not a major cause of death. This issue may not seem urgent, but it has definitely led environmental activists into a dividing discourse.