USFWS Enforces MBTA Against Wind Power For Second Time
A pair of Wyoming wind power projects has pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and agreed to pay fines that add up to $2.5 million. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Department of Justice enforced the MBTA against Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp Energy in connection with the deaths of 38 golden eagles and 336 other migratory birds at the company's Seven Mile Hill and Glenrock/Rolling Hills projects, which together consist of 237 wind turbines.
In the plea agreement entered in U.S. District Court in Wyoming, USFWS reiterated its position that it "focuses its resources on investigating and prosecuting those who take migratory birds without identifying and implementing reasonable and effective measures to avoid take, exercising enforcement and prosecutorial discretion regarding individuals and companies that make good-faith efforts to avoid the take of migratory birds."
The two projects at issue were developed between 2006 and 2008. Neither project required federal permitting, nor were they reviewed by USFWS prior to operation. USFWS contends that the projects were built contrary to agency guidance in effect at the time and with the knowledge that preconstruction surveys indicated that take of golden eagles and other protected migratory birds was likely.
The MBTA enforcement action against PacifiCorp Energy is the second of its kind, following a November 2013 plea deal entered by Duke Energy Renewables in connection with the deaths of 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected migratory birds at two Wyoming wind power facilities. The fines in the Duke Energy case totaled $1 million.