Or will the Obama administration let them slide?
On one night last September, Mount Storm turbines killed 59 birds when a light was left on in one of the towers…
In theory, wind farm operators could face prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for every migratory bird their turbines kill.
But nobody’s been prosecuted. And the administration has sent signals indicating that companies won’t face legal trouble, though it has fallen short of issuing any cast-iron guarantees…
In fact, a recent federal court decision suggested that companies operating in compliance with all relevant regulations should not be prosecuted.
In a ruling issued Jan. 17, Judge Daniel Hoyland of the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, dismissed charges against three oil companies accused of killing migratory birds that were found dead near their facilities.
“This court believes that it is highly unlikely that Congress ever intended to impose criminal liability on the acts or omissions of persons involved in lawful commercial activity which may indirectly cause the death of birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” Hoyland wrote.
The statute was not written to “criminalize lawful commercial activity conducted in the oil fields of North Dakota,” he added.
The question is whether courts would reach the same conclusion about wind farms…
To [a lawyer for the American Bird conservancy], what happened at Mount Storm is exactly the kind of incident that the Justice Department should be looking into as a potential prosecution.
“Any killing of a migratory bird is a violation of the act,” he said. “We have what seems to be a flagrant violation of the act. The question is why not do a prosecution?”
Flashback: Exxon Fined for Causing Bird Deaths