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Wind power and wildlife thrive together

Wind power and birds can exist in harmony.
Wind power and wildlife thrive together
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National Bird Day is today and it offers a good chance to share the positive story about wind energy and birds.

Cleaner air, healthier habitats

What do some of America’s most respected conservation groups think about wind power?

“Audubon strongly supports properly sited wind power as a renewable energy source that helps reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change,” the group says on its webpage.

Responsibly developed wind energy offers a substantial, economically feasible, and wildlife-friendly energy opportunity for America,” according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Here’s why they offer such strong endorsements.

Scientists overwhelmingly agree that excess carbon pollution threatens birds across the globe. This looms particularly large in North America, where the National Audobon Society finds CO2 pollution could cause 314 different bird species to lose up to 50 percent of their habitats in the coming decades.

Fortunately, wind power remains the biggest, fastest, and cheapest way to reduce carbon pollution, cutting 28 million cars’ worth every year. Wind also contributes to a cleaner environment for America’s birds by eliminating pollutants like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that create smog.

Working proactively to keep impacts low

The U.S. wind industry works closely with conservation organizations and government officials to understand and minimize the impacts it does have to the greatest degree possible. Here’s one example of groundbreaking research on ways to do this:

How else do wind developers ensure conservation happens? Some examples of the different methods they use include:

Factors like this contributed to the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority’s finding that wind has the lowest impact on wildlife and their habitats of any way to generate electricity.

It is true that wind does have some impact on bird populations, and the U.S. wind industry takes that very seriously. However, this should also be put into context: wind causes less than 0.01 percent of all human-related bird deaths.

The reality is no human activity is completely impact-free. With decades of siting experience and comprehensive environmental impact assessments done before construction, wind greatly lessens the effects it does have.

And because wind power directly combats the greatest threat to birds, helps create a cleaner environment and preserves habitats through its small footprint, it creates a future where birds of all kinds can continue to flourish.

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Tom Vinson is the Vice President, Federal Regulatory Affairs at the American Wind Energy Association. He joined AWEA in November 2007. Tom leads the AWEA team working on key areas, including transmission, siting (wildlife, public lands, radar/airspace etc.), offshore wind, worker health and safety, and industry standards development. Prior to joining AWEA, Tom spent more than 10 years working for Members of Congress in both the House and Senate.

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Into the Wind provides the latest news and expert opinion from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

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