New Legislation Would Bring Wind Power to ‘Grinding Halt’

Legislation just introduced and slated to move quickly in the U.S. House of Representatives would bring new wind energy development in the U.S. to a grinding halt, AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher warned on May 18.

Introduced this week by Congressman Nick Rahall (D. WV), and scheduled for action in early June at the House Resources Committee which he chairs, H.R. 2337 would burden wind power with sweeping new requirements that have never applied to other energy sectors, Swisher said, noting: — Subtitle D of the bill would direct the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to review every existing and planned wind project, a mandate far beyond the agency’s resources and capabilities, and criminalize operation of wind energy facilities not formally certified by USFWS. — Under the legislation, landowners and farmers with wind turbines on their property would be subject to invasive inspection requirements. — Landowners and farmers could face jail time or a $50,000 penalty for putting a wind turbine, regardless of whether it is for personal use or of a commercial scale, on their property without certification by the USFWS director. A hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled for May 23 on the bill. “This bill is an unprecedented threat to clean, renewable energy,” said Swisher. “It would undermine an essential piece of the global warming solution. Wind energy is the one readily deployable, cost-effective option we have available to meet this challenge, and Rep. Rahall’s proposal would put a massive roadblock in its path. A National Academy of Sciences report released earlier this month concludes that wind turbines caused less than 0.003% of human-cause bird mortality — one thousand times lower than bird mortality associated with house cats. Last November the National Audubon Society, pointing to the link between global warming and the birds and other wildlife that scientists assert it will kill, said it “strongly supports” properly sited wind power as a clean energy source. The bill’s introduction comes at a time when the wind energy industry is working in partnership with environmental organizations to address any wildlife concerns stemming from wind energy development. The industry and environmental groups have been collaborating on the issue for several years; as for the latest activity, a Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee will soon convene to develop constructive, science-based recommendations. The body of experts is in a much better position to determine what is needed and how any national action will complement the numerous activities already underway at the state level, AWEA said. AWEA is asking its members to contact their respective Representative and urge him or her to oppose the anti-wind provisions of H.R. 2337 [use the link below]. This article first appeared in the May 18, 2007, edition of Wind Energy Weekly, published by AWEA.
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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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