On Tuesday, Donald Trump addressed a group of gas workers in Louisiana. During his speech, he claimed that he has personally seen dead bald eagles “all over the place.” He went on to claim those piles of dead bald eagles were created by energy-producing windmills.
“You are under assault,” Trump stated. “And now they talk about the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal. Everybody go, home, you just lost your Jobs. The Green New Deal, that’s a hoax like the hoax I just went through.”
“Under that deal, everybody in this room gets fired,” he continued. “All of the thousands of guys and women standing in these buildings get fired, they go because under the Green New Deal, they don’t like clean, beautiful natural gas. They don’t like anything.”
Trump went on to note that progressive politicians “sort of like wind, even though it kills all the birds.”
“You want to see a bird cemetery? Go under a windmill sometime,” the president ranted. “You will see the saddest, you got every type of bird. You know, in California you go to jail for five years if you kill a bald eagle. You go under a windmill, you see them all over the place. Not a good situation.”
“But that’s what they were counting on, wind. When the wind doesn’t blow, you don’t watch television that night. Your wife says, ‘what the hell did you get me into with this Green New Deal, Charlie?’” Trump added.
Trump’s goal with his lie-filled rhetoric is to paint green energy, especially wind energy, as not only ineffective but unpatriotic as well.
Wind turbines have killed bald eagles, but nothing to the extent that Trump wants his supporters to believe. There is a lack of complete data in bird deaths, but Shawn Smallwood, the leading ornithologist for the study of raptors and wind turbines in California says that Trump is exaggerating big time.
According to Smallwood, an estimated 100 eagles die each year as a result of flying into the spinning blades of a wind turbine.
“Mr. Trump could not have arrived at his number (hundreds and hundreds) from any reliable source unless he is referring to all eagles killed by industrial-scale wind turbines since they were installed in the early 1980s,” Smallwood said. “Cumulatively over time, there have been hundreds of eagles killed, probably about 2,000.”
Smallwood says that he has worked intensively on one of the country’s first wind farms at Altamont Pass in Northern California.
“My best estimate for golden eagle fatalities in the Altamont Pass was 60 per year until the last couple of years when the old turbines started getting replaced by larger turbines that are being more carefully sited to reduce eagle fatalities,” Smallwood said.
Smallwood adds that today the number of eagle fatalities is much lower.
Mark Duchamp, the president of Save the Eagles says, “The average per turbine comes down to 333 to 1,000 deaths annually which is a far cry from the 2-4 birds claimed by the American wind industry or the 400,000 birds a year estimated by the American Bird Conservancy for the whole of the United States, which has about twice as many turbines as Spain.”
In total it is estimated that wind turbines kill up to 300,000 birds annually. That sounds like a crazy high number, but an estimated 6.8 million birds die each year from collisions with cell and radio towers. An estimated 1.7 billion birds are killed annually by cats.
Back in 2009 a study using US and European data on bird deaths estimated the number of birds killed per unit of power generated by wind, fossil fuel, and nuclear power systems.
The study concluded, “Wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh.”
From this, the author estimated that wind farms killed approximately seven thousand birds in the United States in 2006 but nuclear plants killed about 327,000 and fossil-fuelled power plants 14.5 million birds.
In other words, for every one bird killed by a wind turbine, nuclear and fossil fuel powered plants killed 2,118 birds.