Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
ESI Energy, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, one of the largest providers of renewable energy in the United States, must pay more than $8 million dollars after pleading guilty to the death of at least 150 eagles in the wind farms that it has in 8 states.
According to federal prosecutors, the company was charged with three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The charges arose from the deaths of nine eagles at three wind farms in Wyoming and New Mexico.
However, in addition to those deaths, the company acknowledged others from golden and bald eagles at 50 wind farms affiliated with ESI and NextEra since 2012prosecutors said.
Those parks are in eight states: Wyoming, California, New Mexico, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois.
The construction of this type of infrastructure has also expanded in other states such as California, where the costs are used for its construction.
how the eagles died
The documents indicate that almost all the eagles that died were hit by the blades of wind turbines.
Some turbines killed multiple eagles, and because carcasses aren’t always found, officials said the number was likely higher than the 150 birds cited.
Prosecutors said the company’s failure to take steps to protect the eagles or obtain permits to kill the birds le gave an advantage over competitors who took such measures.
Even when ESI and other NextEra affiliates received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits of the wind energy they produced.
Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra bills itself as the world’s largest utility by market value.
It has more than 100 wind farms in the US and Canada, and also generates natural gas, nuclear and solar power.
In response, NextEra spokesman Steven Stengel said the company did not seek permits because it believes they are not required by law for accidental bird deaths.
Wind farms, a danger for golden eagles
In the US it is illegal to kill or harm eagles under the migratory bird law.
Yet a wide range of industries, from energy companies to manufacturing companies, have lobbied for years against law enforcement over accidental bird deaths.
The bald eagle, usa national symbol Since the 1700s, it has seen its populations decimated in the last century due to harmful pesticides.
It then made a dramatic recovery and it is believed that there are now more than 300,000 bald eagles in the country, not including Alaska.
However, golden eagles have not fared so well. Although its population is considered stable, there is a latent danger from wind farms, vehicle collisions, illegal shootings and lead ammunition poisoning.
Most of the eagles killed at the ESI and NextEra wind farms were golden eagles, according to court documents.
There are an estimated 31,800 golden eagles in the west of the country, with about 2,200 birds die annually due to human causesaccording to a study published by eagle researchers with the Fish and Wildlife Service and others.
Historically, companies have been able to avoid prosecution under the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act if they take steps to prevent deaths and seek permits for those that do occur.
The charging documents said that representatives of the company, including the president of ESI, were warned that the eagles would be killed if they built two wind farms in central and southeastern Wyoming.
They also knew of the risk to the eagles when they authorized the repowering of a wind farm in New Mexico, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) from Albuquerque.
You may also like:
– Los Angeles plans to become the first carbon-free US city by 2035
– US declares the royal woodpecker and 22 other species extinct
– Why in the United States it is forbidden to possess the remains of a golden eagle