In his letter of Nov. 26, Andreas DeGraeve points out that man-made hazards and feral cats account for several hundred million bird deaths per year, compared to wind turbines “which only kill up to 40,000 per year.” Annual bird mortality attributed to wind turbines is likely higher, estimates ranging from 440,000, according to the American Bird Conservancy, to 573,000 (plus 888,000 bats), the conclusion of a rigorous study published last March by the Wildlife Society.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently fined Duke Energy $1 million for deaths of 160 protected birds caused by wind turbine projects in Converse County. This action is hardly discriminatory, because for decades the federal government has aggressively pursued oil and gas companies for avian fatalities related to day-to-day onshore operations, while essentially giving wind energy a free pass. Of course any preventable loss of wildlife is tragic, and it’s gratifying to learn that the government is showing signs of “leveling the playing field” when it comes to enforcement.
DeGraeve rightly affirms the value of wind energy as a viable and important energy source, but it’s worth noting that in 2010 the production from a single offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the Thunder Horse facility, produced raw energy equivalent to the electricity generated in 2012 by all the wind and solar installations in the U.S. combined.