Eagle take permit revisions spark debate

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In December, the Department of the Interior extended the duration of programmatic eagle take permitting from five years up to a maximum of 30 years.

Extended permits will only be issued to applicants willing to employ and maintain adaptive management measures to sustain eagle preservation.

According to the Interior, the new permit regulations will allow for closer monitoring of take numbers and conservation practices. Annual and five-year reports on permit holders will be kept and shared with the public.

Along with the extension, the fee schedule for programmatic permits increased exponentially from $1,000 to $36,000. Additionally, an administration fee of $2,600 is assessed for each recurring five-year permit period. The fee increase, according to the DOI, will serve to fund additional administrative and monitoring costs linked to the permit changes.

Reaction to the revision has been mixed. Here’s what some outspoken wind energy industry figures and conservation advocates had to say:

Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior: “Renewable energy development is vitally important to our nation’s future, but it has to be done in the right way. The changes in this permitting program will help the renewable energy industry and others develop projects that can operate in the longer term, while ensuring bald and golden eagles continue to thrive for future generations.”

Frances Beinecke, president, Natural Resources Defense Council: “This rule could lead to many unnecessary deaths of eagles. And that’s a wrong-headed approach. We can, and must, protect wildlife as we promote clean, renewable energy. The Fish and Wildlife Service missed an opportunity to issue a rule that would do just that. This rule sets up a false choice that we intend to fight to reverse.”

John Anderson, Director of Siting Policy, AWEA: “This permit program promotes eagle conservation. Congress actually sanctioned it decades ago by specifically authorizing a permit program under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.”

David Yarnold, president and CEO, National Audubon Society: “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check. It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the bald eagle.”

Wind Systems would like to know your thoughts about the recent revisions surrounding eagle take permitting.

To chime in, email editor@windsystemsmag.com