By Melody Vallieu
December 18, 2013
SHNS — When the bird rescue people rescue birds, they don’t just tend to their wounds, hand-feed and shelter them. They name them. For example, there’s Norman, an eastern screech owl rescued by the Second Chances Wildlife Rehabilitation Program at the Texas State Aquarium.
Birds also receive considerable protection from the federal government. Citgo learned this the hard way when the government prosecuted the company for contributing to the deaths of four cormorants, five pelicans and 25 ducks at one of its Texas refineries between 2002 and 2003. Any naming of those birds will have to be post-mortem, so shame on Citgo. We hope the company learned its lesson.
If, however, the company is confused right about now and feeling as if it is receiving mixed messages from the government, we can understand that because so are we. The Obama administration - defender of birds, prosecutor of Citgo - has decided to allow an industry to kill or injure bald and golden eagles for the next 30 years without reprisal.
This industry, protected more heavily than birds by the federal government - is wind energy. The mitigating factor is that wind energy is clean - except for its massive construction footprint on rural habitat and its endangerment of winged creatures such as birds and bats. It’s emissions-free, unlike what Citgo does.
We knew clean energy was dirty business. But we thought “dirty” meant the aforementioned construction footprint of the turbines, the diversion of 40 percent of this nation’s edible corn crop to ethanol refining, the ethanol refining process itself, the increase in acreage dedicated to corn instead of other useful crops, wind and ethanol lobbyists - things like that. We didn’t know that “dirty” meant unjust.
We’re not saying that Citgo didn’t deserve what it got. Our earlier finger-wagging was not meant to be sarcastic. But the government’s double standard offends our sense of justice. We’re reminded that we looked unkindly upon Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott earlier this year when he won a stay against local U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack’s ruling that the state’s water policy contributed to the deaths of 23 whooping cranes. Jack had placed a moratorium on new water permits for the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers.
We can’t have a double standard for Abbott’s intervention at the expense of whooping cranes, our nation’s symbol for successful human intervention to save a species, and Obama’s intervention at the expense of the bald eagle, our nation’s symbol, period.
This nation needs to do some serious redefining of its energy policy, of what’s clean and what isn’t. We can start by reminding ourselves that the coal industry saved trees from being used as firewood and that the petroleum industry saved whales from being used as a source of oil.
Will the emissions-free energy generated for the next 30 years by wind turbines be worth the cost in bird deaths? That’s a difficult question. Here’s another difficult question we’d like to ask the Citgo-prosecuting wind industry-protecting Obama administration about the doomed birds:
What are their names?