“It has been well known that Shiloh’s wind turbines have slaughtered protected birds species for years. These fatalities have gone largely undocumented due to the wind industry’s practices of rigging their reports and handing them to the unquestioning USFWS.… [Now] comments submitted by two USFWS retired special agents who spent their careers protecting migratory birds and making cases against other energy companies … [have] a lot to say about the Shiloh five-year eagle killing permit.”
The Shiloh IV Wind Project, located in the Montezuma foothills in California, has received an unprecedented permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing it to kill eagles, hawks, peregrine falcons, owls and songs birds while not being subjected to the normal prohibitions afforded under the federal conservation laws. This company now gets a free pass from federal prosecution under the Bald and Eagle and Protection Act and the Migratory Treaty Act.
No other energy company has the liberty to kill birds so indiscriminately while remaining above the law!
The mitigation for this eagle-kill permit was the fixing of a few power poles by the PG&E. Yet PG&E has already been retrofitting poles in this area consistent with its Avian Protection Plan, and if the retrofitting of more power poles was needed the FWS cold have enforced this just as they have for 35 years with other utility companies. Now the FWS and EPA are accepting fraudulent data to trade the slaughter of eagles as if they were carbon credits. It is truly disgraceful.
This permit will allow for the deaths of five golden or bald eagles over a five-year period without the wind farm’s operators being penalized. Everyone has to understand that Shiloh IV is only part of this large wind resource area. All the other sections in this WIND resource area will also be killing eagles and other highly protected species.
It has been well known that Shiloh’s wind turbines have slaughtered protected bird species for years. These fatalities have gone largely undocumented due to the wind industry’s practices of rigging their reports and handing them to the USFWS, which never questioned them. I submitted blistering comments on the company’s Environmental Assessment reports, which were nothing more than several hundred pages of monotony and misdirection, if not outright deception.
The simple truth is that all Shiloh’s turbines have been killing off golden eagles and, most likely, has already been killing bald eagles (unreported) living in the region. This killing of eagles has been happening for decades as supported by eagle surveys. Also not disclosed to the public is that bald eagles, which have been utilizing riparian habitat in the nearby Sacramento River delta, will probably make up the majority eagle kills at this project in the future.
With regards to the comments in favor of a kill permit for Shiloh Wind Power, I wasn’t surprised that many were filed by those that were financially connected to the company. For several years I’d heard that there was dissention within the USFWS against the use of wind power, but had never had any direct contact with anyone from the agency. I understood that USFWS personnel speaking out against the highly politicized issue of wind power would be putting their own careers at risk.
Recently however, I learned that there were comments submitted by two USFWS retired special agents who spent their careers protecting migratory birds and making cases against other energy companies whose activities resulted in eagle and other migratory bird fatalities. Sam Jojola and Lucinda Schroeder have a lot to say about the Shiloh five-year eagle killing permit.
Sam Jojola Letter
I have always been impressed with your honest and candid approach on the devastating impacts to avian wildlife and particularly eagles and other raptors in our country. I am a former Special Agent with FWS/LE and appreciate all your valiant efforts to address the political cowardice by Washington bureaucrats when it comes to the wind industry and impacts of our priceless wildlife resources.
He went on to tell me that he and another former agent (Lucinda Schroeder) had submitted comments against this permit.
I was thankful for the support, and I wanted to know more about his background. And low and behold, Sam Jojola had twenty-three years of field experience, with both short and long term covert operations in federal wildlife law enforcement. Through his years of service, Sam garnered specialized knowledge and experience in targeting international wildlife smugglers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Branch of Special Operations.
He has extensive experience in surveillance, interviewing and interrogation techniques, recruiting and controlling informants. He developed expertise in collecting and analyzing intelligence, orchestrating raids, execution of arrest and search warrants, grand jury, trial preparation, as well as evidence collecting and preservation. All the skills anyone would need to investigate the wind industry.
Sam Jojola also has a great love for our vanishing wildlife. Like growing numbers of Americans, Sam is not happy with the wind industry, nor does he consider this industry to be any shade of “green.” In his Comments (page 177) regarding the Shiloh IV eagle killing permits, Sam shared some of his wisdom on the wind industry and the path our society is taking.
Here are some of Sam Jojola’s Shiloh IV comments:
“The cost of continuing to allow the wind industry to kill Golden Eagles, other raptors and migratory birds for over two (2) decades has been and is too high for the current benefit that wind power provides. The Altamont facility has proven that.”
“I am appalled that anyone is considering a five (5) year programmatic take permit for Shiloh IV given the historical track record of the wind industry’s impact to avian populations elsewhere. How arrogant to consider a long term permit after untold millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent for decades on eagle conservation in the Western U.S.”
“The wind industry needs to be more proactive instead of griping that buildings, cars, and cats are killing more migratory birds. They have had over 2 decades to address these eagle mortalities with meaningful solutions. Buildings, cars and cats usually don’t kill eagles and don’t exploit taxpayer subsidies.”
“These types of permits would allow the industry to continuously justify and allow untold numbers of golden eagles to be legally taken without fear of prosecution. “
“It opens the door to add numbers of eagle deaths to the permit in the future. It would also open up the arguments from electrical utility companies, mining, oil and gas exploration and others who have been prosecuted that the wind industry is getting favorable treatment. Something is wrong with that concept.”
“Why bother with a permit at all? Wind power facilities in California already kill golden eagles and have done so for decades without a permit and no accountability without a single prosecution.”
“Who will monitor this and other forthcoming permits for years to come? Certainly not the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office of Law Enforcement which has been historically neglected for decades with only 218 Special Agents nationwide as of 2013, the same number they had in 1978. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement was once the “Division of Law Enforcement”. With dwindling numbers they will soon be able to fit into a room or smaller. “
“Leaders need to hire a reasonable amount of agents that is commensurate with the exponentially expanding world of wildlife crime and ecological impacts to our wildlife.”
“Why are higher up officials so quick to “mitigate” wildlife loses? Where were they and where are they now when more FWS/LE Special Agents are needed?”
“Why are bureaucrats in Washington D.C. so quick to issue a permit to a project that represents an industry that has several decades of documented violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Act and watch the Office of Law Enforcement languish with such low numbers of Special Agents now and historically?”
“In the really big picture, we are wasting too much money with tax funded subsidies for the current wind turbine technology. The expansion should be slower given the historical impacts to avian wildlife. Our government needs to focus more on what is happening globally with wildlife and the ecosystem. It is all we have.”
“A recent study reports that U.S. taxpayers are paying 12 billion dollars annually for wind power subsidies. What a racket at the expense of wildlife resources and taxpayer money. How beneficial could that be given those figures?”
“Try putting some wind turbines off the coast of Malibu, Miami Beach, or the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc., and see what happens if it is so beneficial. The public would really scrutinize those subsidies and tax credits then.”
“The wind power industry has been treated differently since the 1980’s in California, particularly the Altamont Pass wind facility which has wreaked havoc on Golden Eagle and other raptor populations since then without a single prosecution when they didn’t even have a permit to do so. Oil and gas, including petroleum, electric power corporations, and gold and silver mining operations have all been investigated and prosecuted over decades and these industries have made valiant efforts to curtail migratory bird deaths, much to their credit.”
“Wind power needs to do much more than report bird deaths. Reporting and monitoring bird deaths for years is almost less than doing nothing at all.”
“We do need to explore the wind industry and its long term benefits. Doing it right with exploring meaningful technology to address the migratory bird deaths will actually create more jobs for our country.”
The official response to Sam Jojola from the FWS was generic, cold, and inappropriate. When you think about it this is actually quite understandable since, given the chance, FWS agents like Sam Jojola and Lucinda Schroder could bring the wind industry it’s knees overnight for their hidden slaughter to protected species.
In part two, former FWS Agent Lucinda Schroder will have her say about the wind industry and these eagle killing permits.