Washington – Lights left on during a foggy night last year at a West Virginia wind farm are thought to be behind the grizzly deaths of nearly 500 songbirds.
It was the third time it happened -- and each time, the federal government looked the other way.
Fast forward to last week. Following the deaths of a dozen migratory birds in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska several years back, a Denver-based oil company was fined $22,500. The company was also ordered to make an additional $7,500 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The disconnect demonstrates what critics call a blatant double standard that has to change. While the federal government aggressively pursues oil and gas companies for wildlife deaths, it often gives wind producers a pass.
Proponents say going soft on the wind industry allows it to compete. But environmentalists say, in this instance, it’s unacceptable.
“The playing field is not leveled,” American Bird Conservancy spokesman Bill Johns told FoxNews.com, recalling the West Virginia incident. “If there had been a serious consequence the first time, there wouldn’t have been a second time and a third time. All they do now is go, ‘Whoops, my bad’ and it’s forgiven.”
The most recent mass bird kill in West Virginia didn’t involve collisions with wind turbines at the sprawling 61-tower complex but instead resulted from a combination of exhaustion and collisions with the substation as the Connecticut warblers, yellow-billed cuckoos and Virginia rails got trapped in the light’s glare and circled in mass confusion before dying.