This opinion piece was originally published on March 19, 2018 by The News & Observer as a featured "Letter to the Editor," available here.
FOR THE BIRDS
For well over a century, Audubon has worked to protect birds in North Carolina from the most significant threats to their survival.
Recently, concern has been raised by some that tall wind turbines in Eastern North Carolina represent a threat to both birds and military flight training routes. Audubon’s experience has shown that wind projects can be properly designed, sited and monitored to avoid significant impacts on bird populations.
In 2013, Audubon worked with multiple stakeholders to help craft the state’s existing regulations for the wind industry. Together with federal laws like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse, these rules provide a thoughtful process by which wind projects are directed to areas that have minimal impact on natural resources and military installations.
A transition to clean energy is also critical to protect birds from the worst effects of carbon pollution, which are already impacting where birds can survive and thrive in our state and have been identified by the U.S. military as one of the greatest national security threats.
Earlier this month, Senator Thom Tillis delivered thoughtful remarks on wind energy at the UNC energy conference. In response to questions about potential conflicts between wind farms and military interests, Senator Tillis remarked that “General Mattis has been clear that you can strike a balance.” And also, “There’s a way to work it out.”
We agree. Let’s evaluate each wind project on its own merits rather than banning an entire source of clean, renewable energy from the Piedmont and Eastern North Carolina. Overly burdensome limits on wind energy development do a disservice to birds, the U.S. military and economically challenged communities. A more balanced approach is needed and Audubon stands ready to work with state leadership, wind developers and military interests to secure our shared interests in economic development, national security and conservation of natural resources.
Director of Government Relations
Audubon North Carolina