According to the Sierra Club letter to Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar:
"...the wildlife values embodied in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other statutes should be protected by the full weight of the enacted laws and strong enforcement thereof."Perhaps most appropriate considering the wind energy industry's efforts to undermine environmental guidelines as enumerated in the American Bird Conservancy's petition, the Sierra Club in its letter asserts that "the industry must display exemplary responsibility on a consistent basis," while the US Fish and Wildlife Service should show "aggressiveness" in its planning and "make real the threat of sanctions and prosecution."
The wind energy industry has some unscrupulous actors hiding behind a green facade, and they are demanding wide access to our public lands, threatening to fragment habitat and kill birds and bats that play crucial roles in maintaining balance in ecosystems throughout the southwest. In early March, the California Wind Energy Association argued to State and Federal officials that it should be allowed to build on over 1,500 square miles of California's desert, with options to build on thousands more square miles. Much of that land is home to rare plants, bighorn sheep, Golden Eagles, and the occasional California Condor. On a less quantifiable level, the construction of hundreds of wind turbines -- each towering 420 feet over the desert landscape -- would alter the character of our wildlands, depriving many of the natural escape they seek when they go to the desert.
legal challenge against Kern County for authorizing the North Sky River project.
|This heap of Joshua Trees was left behind by construction crews destroying the desert to install wind turbines for the Alta Wind Energy Center, south of where NextEra Energy plans to build the North Sky River wind project. Photo by Friend of Mojave.|
As we find ourselves in a protracted battle to free ourselves of fossil fuels, we should not lose our conservation ethic. The lands we cherish, and the plants and animals we have pledged to protect for future generations to enjoy should not be sacrificed to the renewable energy industry when better alternatives exist, including energy efficiency, distributed generation, or siting larger solar facilities on already-disturbed lands. To welcome the most destructive forms of renewable energy -- industrial facilities on pristine wildlands -- is to abandon the core values that led us into the long battle we are fighting against coal and oil today.