Amid a battle that pits the nation's growing energy needs against its national symbol, federal officials have agreed to allow a proposed 48-turbine wind farm project in southeastern Minnesota to advance, despite an estimate that it would kill eight to 15 eagles per year, Star Tribune reports.
That's a number that federal officials say would not endager the local eagle population, and the company advancing the project, New Era Wind Farm, says it estimates one eagle kill per year, the newspaper says.
The relatively small proposed wind farm in Goodhue County near Red Wing has drawn national attention as one of a few working with federal officials to diminish potential danger to birds and bats posed by the giant turbine blades, the Star Tribune reports. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials in a letter sent to state regulators say a number of strategies could be used to reduce the number of eagles killed.
Critics aren't convinced. "That is too many bald eagles," one national activist told the Star Tribune of the eight to 15 estimate.
Other critics in the rural county also fret about noise, shadows and health effects. The project has yet to receive approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Wind farm proposals around the country have met with opposition from environmentalists concerned about the projects' effects on birds and wildlife. California has about 2,500 golden eagles, and the state's largest wind farms kill more than 80 eagles per year on average, Fox News reported in 2011.
A proposed project in North Carolina, now stalled by concerns from officials at a military base, had also faced opposition from federal wildlife officials who said it posed a danger to eagles.