Wind Power Company Sues To Keep Bird Kill Data Under Wraps

eagle short-toed

In the battle for hearts and minds, the one issue that seems to annoy the wind industry like a burr under a frisky pony’s saddle blanket is the wholesale slaughter of millions of birds and bats. It’s an inconvenient truth to be sure. But, as with everything that the wind industry does, if you can’t keep a straight face while lying about it any more, then pull out all stops and cover it up.

Wind Energy Company Sues To Keep Bird Kill Data Out Of Public’s Hands
American Bird Conservancy
Michael Hutchins
24 August 2016

An Ohio wind-energy facility doesn’t want to reveal how many birds it kills, and has gone to court to keep that information secret. Blue Creek Wind Farm, owned by the Spanish company Iberdrola Renewables, has filed a lawsuit in Ohio to prevent two state agencies from making public what it calls “trade secrets.” The legal action comes after an Ohio bird conservation group, Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), asked to see bird and bat mortality data for Blue Creek.

The facility went into operation in June 2012. It occupies about 80 square miles in an agricultural area of two Ohio counties rich in bird life. Blue Creek puts larger birds, including raptors, at risk. But it also creates a serious hazard for bats and many smaller bird species, including several of conservation concern.  The long list of affected species includes Horned Lark, Killdeer, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Golden-winged Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo, Lapland Longspur, American Tree Sparrow, and Sora, as well as the federally endangered Indiana Bat.

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) strongly believes that the public and environmental groups should have access to reliable data about how many of these birds and bats are killed by the facility, and that the company’s attempt to use the legal system to block access would set a dangerous precedent if it succeeds. Mortality data provided by wind-energy companies is notoriously unreliable. ABC has repeatedly called for changes in how and by whom that data is collected, and urged that the more credible and transparent data system used in Hawaii be adopted nationwide.  This is the only state where fatality data are collected by independent third-party experts using standardized methods and where the public has access to the information.

“We need greater scientific integrity and transparency in the collection of bird and bat kill data at U.S. wind energy facilities,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, director of ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “Now Iberdrola has sued to keep their data hidden from the public and from conservation organizations. What are they trying to hide?”

The history of the Blue Creek legal action goes back to 2013, when BSBO submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to find out how many birds and bats were being killed at the site. FWS denied the request, and in 2014 BSBO petitioned the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Power Siting Board to release the data. That triggered the company’s current lawsuit against the two agencies.

BSBO is not directly involved in the lawsuit, but its executive director, Kimberly Kaufman, says there’s a great deal at stake in the outcome. Kaufman also sits on ABC’s board of directors. “Every citizen—birdwatcher or not—should be paying rapt attention to this case,” Kaufman said. “The wind industry is actively working to prevent the public from making informed decisions about these massive machines on our landscape. If they’re putting their reputation on the line to hide bird and bat deaths, what else aren’t they telling us?”

Blue Creek and other wind-energy facilities should not be able to withhold such vital information about the nation’s natural resources, including its birds and bats, Hutchins said. “Our native wildlife does not belong to the wind industry but is owned by the American people and held in trust for future generations,” he said.
American Bird Conservancy


About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Jackie Rovensky says:

    ‘Trade Secret’ – what are they talking about, they and every other company knows they kill birds and bats and no doubt lots of poor little flying bugs which the birds and bats feed on.
    We and they all know the birds and bats they kill as well as the bugs help ensure the survival of ecosystems but letting people know the exact quantity killed in the name of saving the earth will certainly have people questioning these things and the worth of allowing them to continue to destroy at will.
    Questions will begin to be asked whether keeping them and allowing them to proliferate, especially when there is no perceivable benefit to the environment from having them flaying and slicing through the air and removal will be demanded to ensure the security of our environmental future.

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