Posted: Mar 26, 2014 5:42 PM GSTUpdated: Mar 26, 2014 9:25 PM GST
By MATTHEW DALY
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is refusing to turn over documents related to enforcement of environmental laws at wind farms where dozens of eagles and other protected birds have been killed, House Republicans charged Wednesday.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the Fish and Wildlife Service has engaged in a "deliberate slow rolling of documents and answers" for nearly a year. Hastings is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has been seeking to compel the wildlife agency turn over internal documents related to its enforcement of laws protecting eagles and other birds.
An Associated Press investigation last year revealed that the administration was not prosecuting wind energy companies for killing eagles and other protected birds.
Only one wind energy company has been prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds in violation of federal law. Duke Energy pleaded guilty in November to killing eagles and other birds at two Wyoming wind farms and will pay $1 million.
The government estimates that at least 85 eagles are killed each year by wind turbines.
The wildlife agency "dragged its feet for six months" before providing a two-page memo written the year before, Hastings said, and many of the documents that have been turned over so far are incomplete or have largely been blacked out.
"This is not compliance. This is deliberate slow rolling of documents and answers, and we've had enough," Hastings said.
Committee members asked the agency's director, Dan Ashe, at a hearing Wednesday about a new agency rule allowing energy companies to kill or injure eagles without fear of prosecution for up to 30 years.