If your technology is deemed “green” then you are immune from the laws governing the rest of us:
On Aug. 13, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees.
A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.
Altamont’s turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon’s tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.
Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. Yet the Justice Department is not bringing cases against wind companies.
And how do the wind companies defend themselves? They argue that housecats kill billions of birds each year, so their additional contribution is no big deal. Need I remind you how ridiculous such a defense is? Jeffrey Dahmer could use the same reasoning by saying, “I only killed a few dozen, the Vietnam War killed thousands.” No one in polite society could get away with such a thing, yet when it comes to “green” energy all bets are off.
You might be concerned because of the very real possibilty that these sorts of things merely scratch the surface of the real story on “green” technology. Ignoring the political favoritism and rent seeking in the industry, something is not efficient and environmentally friendly just by saying it is. Look at the case of ethanol for an idea as to why.