Bird group sues Obama administration over wind power
A lack of transparency by top Obama administration officials has prompted an environmental group to sue the Interior Department to determine whether wind power projects are killing large numbers of bats and birds.
The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accusing the government of intentionally withholding the information and refusing to comply with requests for certain documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
“It’s ridiculous that Americans have to sue in order to find out what their government is saying to wind companies about our wildlife,” Kelly Fuller, ABC spokeswoman said in a statement announcing the legal action.
A spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In particular, the conservation group wants to see correspondence between the government agency and private wind development companies that discussed wildlife fatalities caused by the alternative energy developments.
President Barack Obama pledged to make his administration the most transparent in history, and during his first month in office directed federal agencies to respond to FOIA requests in a prompt manner. “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency,” Obama said.
Fuller said the group’s lawsuit asks the court to enforce the president’s promise. “Some (Interior) offices have not sent a single document that we asked for, even though the agencies were legally required to do so more than seven months ago,” Fuller said.
Daniel Ashe, FWS director, said in a March letter to the conservation group that the agency was being “meticulously transparent” in addressing the impact of wind power on wildlife, and asked for ABC’s help in assessing their voluntary guidelines, Fuller said.
Being denied access to the information makes that task impossible and is hardly transparent, Fuller said.
The wind development projects are located in Arizona, California, Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas. The group says there are more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. where birds are vulnerable to the impacts of wind energy development.