Interior Department's 12/22 MBTA opinion - An obvious sellout

It is incredibly naive to expect the swamp to fix the swamp. Or in this case, expecting the Interior Department to protect our rapidly disappearing migratory bird species from the biggest threat facing birds in the world today, wind energy developments. Instead of protecting migratory species from this industry, the Interior Department has been colluding with and protecting this industry for decades while 200-300 million birds, along with tens of thousands of eagles have been slaughtered by wind energy.

Keep in mind when reading this biased Interior Department opinion, that this is an agency that will not reveal the sources for over 35000 eagle carcasses that have shipped to the Denver Eagle Repository since 1997.  Prior to this Interior Department gag order on eagle carcasses, the Interior Department had already admitted that windmills were a primary source of the repository eagle carcasses. This agency also the proof  that wind turbines located in eagle habitat were their number one source of mortality.

It was known to the Interior Department in 1997 that many of the species being slaughtered by wind turbines were migratory. Many wind energy victims are from nesting territories thousands of miles away. This agency has been banding eagles for decades. They have the bands (See image below) recovered from migratory eagles killed by turbines, but this band /mortality information has also been kept a secret to protect this industry.

The Interior Department has also given the wind industry voluntary regulations which means this agency is basically unregulated. As a result eagle fatalities do not have to reported and this industry has been allowed to design studies with methodologies that hide millions of wind turbine fatalities annually.

Yesterday on Dec 22, 2017, this agency released a legal opinion regarding the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and this agency's issuance of incidental take permits for eagles and endangered species.  This 41-page opinion was written to once again, sellout the protection of bird species and to protect this incredibly destructive industry.

Carefully read over this 12/22/17 Interior Department Conclusion........
“The text, history, and purpose of the MBT A demonstrate that it is a law limited in relevant part to affirmative and purposeful actions, such as hunting and poaching, that reduce migratory birds and their nests and eggs, by killing or capturing, to human control. Even assuming that the text could be subject to multiple interpretations, courts and agencies are to avoid interpreting ambiguous laws in ways that raise grave Constitutional doubts if alternative interpretations are available. Interpreting the MBTA to criminalize incidental takings raises serious due process concerns and is contrary to the fundamental principle that ambiguity in criminal statutes must be resolved in favor of defendants. Based upon the text, history, and purpose of the MBTA, and consistent with decisions in the Courts of Appeals for the Fifth,
Eighth, and Ninth circuits, there is an alternative interpretation that avoids these concerns. Thus, based on the foregoing, we conclude that the MBTA's prohibition on pursuing, hunting, taking, capturing, killing, or attempting to do the same applies ONLY to direct and affirmative purposeful actions that reduce migratory birds, their eggs, or their nests, by killing or capturing, to human control.”

Now read what’s missing from this Interior Department conclusion……….
The text, history, and purpose of the MBTA demonstrate that it was written with a clear intent to save declining bird species from human related threats.  At the time this law was written, human activities such as hunting, poaching, and egg collecting were the primary contributors to North America’s decimated bird populations. These declines were witnessed by several generations before this Act was implemented. At the time this Act was created, other highly lethal human activities contributing to bird mortality, such as wind energy production, did not exist. But if they did, these activities contributing to bird population declines would have been mentioned because this commercial activity is a very purposeful human activity that kills migratory bird species on a mass scale, contributes to failed nests, dead eggs, and the abandonment of species habitat. This Act is not the least bit ambiguous in its purpose. Today we have laws making it a crime to drive an automobile while intoxicated but before automobiles, it was not a crime. This situation is similar to that with the wind industry. Just because there were no bird killing wind turbines in 1918 does absolve them from MBTA enforcement. In a similar fashion, the MBTA should have been updated to include stronger protections for migratory birds from new and emerging human related threats. The Interior Department has reneged in their duties and has deliberately avoided for this need decades. In addition, this Agency entrusted to protect our natural resources, has also deliberately avoided conducting their own scientific research, implementing any meaningful  regulations and has not required scientific research from an industry that would demonstrate true wind energy impacts upon bird populations. Until truthful scientific wind turbine mortality research has been conducted, the Interior Department should not only never issue an opinion, this agency should not issue a single incidental take permit.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In one word........Integrity, is completely missing from this Interior Department conclusion. Remember back to the 2010 Gulf oil spill and the MMS. This was an agency described as having "a culture of corruption" and "a culture of ethical failure" that led up to the gulf oil spill disaster. The MMS was a branch of the Interior Department. After the Gulf spill, this agency was split up to appease the public. But that means nothing because these dirtbags took orders from the Interior Department they are still with us in DC. This same culture of corruption and culture of ethical failure still exists. But unlike the Gulf Oil spill disaster, with wind energy a hidden species annihilation disaster is taking place right under our noses.

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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