Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2014

First Page






Source Publication Abbreviation

Hastings W.-Nw. J. Envtl. L. & Pol'y


Wind turbines kill birds. A lot of birds. You would be hard pressed to find someone who is happy with that fact, including anyone in the wind energy development community. But until and unless there are technological advances in wind turbine design that eliminate their deadly impact on birds, it is something we must accept. Of course, acceptance does not and should not mean issuing a blank check to wind energy developers to wantonly injure birds. To do so would violate both the spirit and letter of a host of environmental laws that have at their core a stubborn insistence that human demands on the environment must be balanced against duties of stewardship owed to all animals. Among these laws is the BGEPA, which makes manifest our commitment to preserving bald and golden eagles. It does no damage to this commitment to recognize that it must be balanced other environmental imperatives, including and especially an imperative of the scope and seriousness of global warming. The Service’s creation of programmatic incidental eagle take permits in the Eagle Permit Rule was a clear but thus far unsuccessful effort to strike this balance by allowing for the responsible development of wind energy projects in eagle habitat. By adopting the targeted changes to the Eagle Permit Rule suggested in this article, however, balance is still possible.