The Obama Administration has used subsidies and regulation to promote wind power. Yet the deaths of thousands of birds and bats from wind turbines, and the misappropriation of funds shows the danger of endless government subsidies and rules that are enforced only when they benefit certain industries.
Wind turbines kill approximately 600,000 birds a year. The American Bird Conservancy thinks that the Golden Eagle will wind up on the endangered species list because so many are being killed by turbines. Wind turbines also kill an estimated 900,000 bats each year. According to National Geographic bat-friendly turbine designs exist, but the wind-power industry has been slow to install the new turbines.
More disturbingly, the administration seems to be selectively enforcing laws. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Endangered Species Act prescribe strict penalties for killing eagles and condors respectively. But the administration has given an exemption from prosecution to a California wind company if the company is responsible for the death of the California Condor, one of the rarest birds in the world. The administration wants to grant a similar exception to birds on the 1,500-mile Texas to North Dakota migratory corridor. And the administration seems to be ignoring bat deaths altogether.
Other businesses that inadvertently harm protected animals face hefty consequences. Shooting or electrocuting the Bald Eagle can lead to a $250,000 fine and two years in jail. Harming the bird can also lead to legal fees incurred in federal prosecution. Further, the wind industry is allowed to build wind farms on protected lands despite the danger to native animals.
No power source is perfect. Coal and oil power produce emissions. Nuclear power plants require a site to store used fuel rods. Solar power panels use large amounts of land, displacing native animals. But the wind power subsidies and selective enforcement of laws shows the government is deliberately distorting the market to favor a certain industry. Eliminating subsides and uneven enforcement of rules would allow energy companies to produce high-quality low-cost energy. Further it would improve not worsen the lives of birds and bats.