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Interior Department Will No Longer Prosecute Energy Producers For Killing Migratory Birds

by Countable | 12.27.17

What’s the story?

Since 1918 the federal government has protected migratory birds via the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The Obama administration used the MBTA as a tool to go after energy producers whose installations contributed to migratory bird deaths. The Trump administration quietly rescinded the policy, stating they will no longer prosecute “oil and gas, wind, and solar operators that accidentally kill birds”, reports the Washington Post.

Supporters of the change say that the previous administration’s interpretation of the restriction against illegally pursuing, hunting, taking or capturing birds without a permit is overly broad as applied to power system installations. Advocates believe the change will remove the incentive for industry to negotiate solutions to an ongoing problem.

The Post states that rough estimates point to hundreds of millions of bird deaths a year:

“hundreds of thousands of birds probably die each year when they become caught in wind turbine blades. Oil-waste pits kill between a half-million and 1 million birds each year, according to Audubon, while power lines cause the death of up to 175 million birds per year.”

Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, said in an interview that the Obama administration’s legal interpretation was too broad, but that the new interpretation is too narrow, and does not provide the balance and “certainty both industry and conservationists have sought for years.”

What do you think?

Are you concerned about a balance between conservation and industry generally, or in this case specifically? Do you think a balance is possible, or should the needs of either conservation or energy take precedence?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Max Pixel / Creative Commons)

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