Look up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s...
Wait. It was a bird. Now it’s a charred crispy critter.
Down in Southern California in the fragile Mojave Desert ecological system near the Nevada border as many as 28,000 birds a year are being fried with the “eco-friendly” BrightSource Energy plant. The $2.2 billion solar power plant is in the Ivanpah Dry Lake. It consists of 300,000 mirrors each the size of a typical garage door that send solar rays into three 40-story boiler towers filled with water to create steam. The steam turns turbines that produce enough electricity to power 140,000 homes.
It gets better. The Oakland-based company is seeking state approval to build an even bigger plant with 75-story boilers near Joshua Tree National Park within a major bird migration corridor.
This is all made possible by the green movement and your government that is giving away the store to make it happen. The surge in so-called “environmental friendly” technology such as electric cars, solar power, and wind power is being fueled by generous state and federal tax credits. In the case of Tesla, as an example, each car sold represents close to $15,000 in tax credits either given to the buyer or to the manufacturer. Solar power plants also pencil out thanks to tax credits.
Here’s how the green movement’s “Death Ray” works: The mirrors focus the sun’s frays much like a magnifying glass and end up singeing birds flying through them to the point many catch on fire and start a death spiral. They even have a cute name for the death process. Birds being fried to death are called “streamers” in reference to the plume of smoke they give off as they plunge to the earth.
This is not the only green power source that kills wildlife. Wind turbines on the Altamont Pass slice and dice upwards of 4,700 birds a year based on studies by the Audubon Society. That includes upwards of 110 golden eagles annually that are supposedly protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
You or I kill a golden eagle and we’re looking at a $5,000 fine and a year in prison. If an individual engages in systematic killing of golden eagles they can be fined up to $250,000. A business or organization can face a $500,000 fine.
So why can wind farms kill golden eagles with impunity?
The Obama Administration in 2013 gave wind farms 30 years of immunity from federal prosecution since they deem developing wind power a critical energy source. However, oil companies and utilities such as PG&E are still slapped massive fines when a protected bird gets killed in an oil waste pit or an eagle gets electrocuted on high voltage wires.
The green energy movement generates as much hypocrisy as it does electricity.
It is OK to kill Bambi if you’re doing it while being green.
It’s not OK to kill Bambi if you’re not green.
So what’s the death of a few thousand golden and bald eagles a year in this country plus 537,000 other birds based on the peer reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin surveys if it lines the pockets of those making money from green energy initiatives?
Exxon kills an eagle and they’re facing a $1 million fine. A single wind farm kills 110 eagles and it is perceived as good public policy and actually rewarded with generous tax credits.
Now we are building gigantic bird zappers in fragile desert environments and the government response is collateral damage is acceptable in the pursuit of green goals.
Yet if a Fresno area farmer inadvertently discs over a burrow of an endangered Tipton kangaroo rat, the feds come after him with a vengeance to the point of seizing his land.
It’s too bad that the farmer in question —Taung Ming-Lin — didn’t have the presence of mind in 1994 to develop a solar farm instead. The federal government would have given him millions in tax credits in exchange for disturbing the Tipton kangaroo rat habitat in order to build a solar farm. As for killing Tipton kangaroo rats he would have had no worries as environmental collateral damage is fine as long as your goals are green and mesh with those of the government.
Killing Bambi is OK as long as doing so is part of a government-approved green initiative regardless of its questionable value.
Or as George Orwell pointed out so succinctly in “1984” and “Animal Farm”, the ends justify the means.
— This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.