Protect Golden Eagles at Altamont Pass

Take action: //actionnetwork.org/campaign/Altamont/

Take action to protect golden eagles and other birds of prey killed by wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, in eastern Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Wind turbines in Altamont Pass kill more birds of prey than any other wind facility in North America, due to their location on a major bird migratory route in an area with high concentrations of raptors, including the highest density of breeding golden eagles in the world.

The Center strongly supports the development of alternative energy sources as a way to reduce our impact on the environment, including reducing greenhouse emissions and protecting wildlife habitat; however, the Altamont Pass turbines are severely impacting raptors due to bird kills from collisions with turbines and electrocution on power lines. The Center has a strong interest in making wind power cleaner and believes there are numerous changes that could be easily implemented at Altamont Pass by the wind power industry to significantly reduce raptor kills.

Research by raptor experts for the California Energy Commission indicates that each year, Altamont Pass wind turbines kill an estimated 881 to 1,300 birds of prey, including more than 75 golden eagles, several hundred red-tailed hawks, several hundred burrowing owls, and hundreds of additional raptors including American kestrels, great horned owls, ferruginous hawks, and barn owls. These kills of more than 40 different bird species are in violation of federal and state wildlife protection laws such as the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and several California Fish and Game Code provisions.

Alameda County has now mishandled the first step in reducing bird kills at Altamont Pass wind turbines, with the County Board of Supervisors poised to appoint an industry advocate as a so-called “neutral” scientific monitor. The Alameda County Planning Department is recommending that long-time wind industry paid consultant and advocate WEST, Inc. serve as the “neutral” scientific monitor for evaluating avian deaths caused by the Altamont Pass wind turbines, despite a clear and continuing financial conflict of interest.

The County Board of Supervisors will consider and vote on the WEST nomination this Thursday, April 6. Please contact the Board of Supervisors immediately and oppose the appointment of WEST as the scientific monitor for Altamont pass avian deaths and insist that bird kills at Altamont Pass are adequately monitored by a truly neutral party.

Send a letter to the following decision maker(s): Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker Supervisor Gail Steele Supervisor Keith Carson Supervisor Nate Miley Supervisor Scott Haggerty

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: No Industry Consultant for Altamont Bird Kill Monitoring

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

Please do not appoint WEST, a wind power industry consultant with a clear financial conflict of interest, as Alameda County's scientific monitor for evaluating avian mortality in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area.

Accurate and credible monitoring of bird deaths is an essential first step for the County in reducing the massive kills of eagles and other raptors at Altamont Pass. Accurate monitoring will be crucial for designing additional bird mortality reduction measures and evaluating whether new turbines at Altamont are effectively reducing bird kills.

The consulting firm WEST has served as a paid advocate for wind power companies throughout the County's permit renewal process, has demonstrated a strong bias against meaningful avian mortality reduction measures, and has a clear financial conflict of interest. WEST is clearly unsuitable as the "neutral" scientific monitor for the Altamont Pass monitoring program.

Given the County's decades of inaction in solving the unacceptable levels of bird kills at Altamont Pass, it is imperative that the County implement a credible monitoring program so the public can determine whether the County's mitigation measures are truly making progress in reducing bird kills. Please ensure that Altamont Pass avian mortality is adequately monitored and effectively reduced.

Sincerely,

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