DOJ Prosecutes NextEra Energy Subsidiary For Eagle Kills & “Blatant Disregard of Wildlife Laws”
Robert Bryce 0:05
Hi, everyone, welcome to the power hungry Podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. This is a special podcast that I’m doing. I’m calling it a power brief to talk about the announcement that was made on Tuesday by the Department of Justice regarding its prosecution of NextEra Energy for the violations of the migratory Migratory Bird Treaty Act, in fact, multiple violations. You can see here the bald the bald eagle on the left and the and the golden eagle on the right. To me this, this is one of the most remarkable cases of enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been reporting on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act since 1990. I published my first article on this in the wall in Christian Science Monitor in 1990, about the oil and gas industry, which was being then being prosecuted for multiple violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the golden and bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. But this this press release that was put out on April 5, Tuesday, today’s April 7, is truly remarkable. The headline is ESI energy, LLC wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources is sentenced after pleading guilty to killing and wounding eagles in its wind energy operations in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. What’s remarkable about this is that the wind industry now for years, in fact, for more than a decade has been saying, Oh, we’re really concerned about wildlife. Well, this press release decimates that claim it eviscerates that claim and it does so against NextEra Energy, a company that is the largest renewable energy producer in the world. And this this, this document the DOJ is press release is remarkable. It says EOS ESI, which is a subsidiary of NextEra acknowledges at least 150. Bald and Golden Eagles have died in total since 2012, across 50 of its 154 wind energy facilities. So that number has to be two is far too low. That represents only likely a fraction of the number of eagles that have actually been killed. Because of course, not all the eagles that are killed are found. And second, this is only a third of next eras facilities. It further says 136 of those deaths have been Affirmative, affirmative ly determined to be attributable to the eagle being struck by a wind turbine blade. But here are the other parts. It says in the fact that the DOJ and the Fish and Wildlife Service would prosecute NextEra Energy when when the wind energy business has been getting a free pass on these issues on these federal laws. Some of our oldest wildlife protection laws in America the wild, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918. Their their conduct had to be particularly egregious for the DOJ to bring this case and in fact, it has been it their their their activity, their their conduct was particularly egregious. In fact, it was outrageous. Here’s what the DOJ says this agreement holds ESI and it affiliates accountable for years of unwillingness to work cooperatively with the service, and their blatant disregard of wildlife laws. blatant disregard, from one of the biggest utilities in America. How does this permissible, Howard, where’s the Sierra Club? Why are why are the so called environmental groups speaking up on this? Why because they’re fully in the pocket of this renewable energy craze. It says that, in fact that ESI is conduct violated both Eagle act the eagle, bald eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the MBTA. But the government accepted the company’s guilty plea to only MBTA counts due in large part to ESI. ‘s agreement to apply for permits at 50 facilities. So what’s the bottom line here in terms of cost next era ESI has to pay about $8 million in fines and restitution. And it has to pay up to 27 million for an eagle program to
increase Eagle habitat and do some other things. But it says here, I mean, the other parts of this are just truly remarkable. And remember, this is the Department of Justice in an agent in an in an administration that is fully in favor of renewable energy. But it says here ESI and its affiliates next era, deliberately elected not to apply for or obtain any any Eagle take permits intended to ensure the preservation of bald and golden eagles in ESI, and its affiliates began commercial operations at new facilities on a schedule intended to meet among other things, Power Purchase Agreement commitments, and qualifying deadlines for particular tax credit rates for renewable energy. In other words, they’re saying that ESI in fact it and I’ll talk about this in a minute. Next era knew that it was rushing these projects into into operation because and they did so because they wanted to get more federal tax credits. They were subsidy mining and they didn’t care about Eagle deaths. Here’s what the this is, again, the Department of Justice saying this. Yes, I’m its affiliates. Next era received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits for generating electricity from wind power at facilities that it operated, knowing that multiple Eagles would be killed and wounded without legal authorization and without in most instances, paying restitution or compensatory mitigation. And then it goes on to detail the efforts of the Fish and Wildlife Service and I wrote about the division of law enforcement at the Fish and Wildlife Service back in 1990, and the Christian Science Monitor 32 years ago, but it says in March of 2019, Fish and Wildlife Service informed the defendant through a letter to its agents that based on that their project Cedar Springs one and two in Wyoming, which could result in the collision mortality of 44 Golden Eagles and 23. Bald eagles over the first five years of operations, said that if built that the company should obtain an eagle take permit, the definit continued to development of the cedar rings Cedar Springs facilities in July of 2019. The company, the company and its consultants met with Fish and Wildlife Service Representatives. And during that meeting, recommended that consistent with the recommendations made by the Fish and Wildlife Service earlier that year, the wind project not should not be constructed due to the risk of avian facility fatalities. The defendant did not implement the or and also recommended that if the wind project was built, the project should implement seasonal curtailment during daylight hours, the defendant did not implement the recommended curtailment. So here they’re directly violating suggestions from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Then again between September 10 And September 23. Fish and Wildlife Service sent additional letters to the defense agents, each noting that the defendants parent company NextEra Energy had documented the project was anticipated to kill eagles and recommended that the facilities apply for an eagle take permit. Fish and Wildlife Service reiterated for the third time its recommendation that a wind project should not be constructed in the proposed area for the Cedar Springs project. And yet the company went ahead and did that. I mean, this is a repeated example over and over by the Department of Justice, saying that one of the biggest utilities in America deliberately violated federal law. As a birdwatcher, as a citizen, it just is completely outrageous. What is what is being reported here by the Department of Justice. What else in Wales is this matter now? Well, because the wind energy is of course, seeking an extension of the production tax credit, the which I mentioned before, with the tax credit, the subsidy that wind industry business gets for operating wind farms, and that the wind energy business has been rejected now 325 times across the United States, from Maine to Hawaii, by local community saying they don’t want wind in their areas. And NextEra has in fact sued some of these counties and local municipalities to force them to take wind turbines. So I’ll just conclude with this. What if this were Exxon Mobil? Or Chevron? What if the oil and gas industry we’re doing this? The outrage from the NGOs and the environmental groups who would be would be clear this will be front page news in the New York Times but because it’s the wind business, we have a double standard. And I take no pleasure in staying saying that. But the media, they’re you know, there’s they’re reporting on the on what happened in the fines, but they’re not reporting the backstory and the context for this, which is that the end of that wind industry has known for more than a decade that the more turbans they build, the more eagles they will kill. And that’s what has happened. And now the Department of Justice, thank you Department of Justice, for enforcing the law. But this is just an outrageous example of the lack of corporate responsibility, lack of ethics in the wind energy business when it comes to our our wildlife and as a birdwatcher, as a taxpayer is that a citizen of this country, one who loves golden eagles, bald eagles.
It’s great that they’re bringing this enforcement action, but their own press release. The Department of Justice’s own press release shows how irresponsible this wind industry has been when it comes to protecting our wildlife. So yeah, I’m mad about it. And I’m no I shouldn’t get too worked up about it. But this is my business. And I’m offended and glad to see the prosecution but, and I’ve written a piece about this, but I wanted to get this power brief out before before I get that piece published. So thanks for tuning in. There’ll be more of these coming. Thanks.