Two stories struck me this week because they are two sides of the same coin. Unlike the coin of Two-face from Batman fame, both sides of this coin are marred. Before I rant on government, let me note that I am not blaming Obama really. Whatever you feel about the current sitting president, this sort of thing tends to be farther down the ladder of bureaucracy. Now, for a better understanding of what happens when you allow a large body full of red tape to handle seemingly simple matters and ecological wellness.
Tilting at Windmills
The first is about the matter of wind generators. It would seem that in Converse county, WY, a wind farm has been killing golden eagles since it was put in in 2009. You might not be aware, but it is a major crime to kill bald or golden eagles. This includes accidental deaths. None of the deaths have been prosecuted or fined. While you might think that it is because these are companies, they are being let off the hook, that doesn’t hold water. Power companies are fined regularly for birds that die on their lines and oil companies are charged for every bird that drowns in their waste pits.
So why then is it being allowed? The current administration has given a hand wave to wind power. No matter how many birds get chopped up, they will not face a penalty. This hand wave is a 30 year exemption as I am led to understand. So why can’t the birds just go around the obvious towers? Well, first, birds are adapted to look down at the ground more than forward, especially raptors. Secondly, the turbines can end up going 170 mph easily and create a vortex. It is like being on a cellphone and then looking up to find you are in a tunnel about to hit a wall.
Green energy is a good thing. Undeniably, but this is how things go when you try to push for a large company and the government to handle your environmentalism. A habitat gets destroyed to build them and then the things you want to help save die anyway from the oddity of it all.
No Man’s Land
Before you start ranting that the government doesn’t care about the environment (Rants are my job anyway), let me point you to the second case I read about. Jump to King Cove, Alaska. In the 60’s, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge was created. Undeniably a good thing. Just one problem. The little town is cut off from easy access to the only means of getting to a large hospital and other emergency services. The existing land route was lost when the reserve came into place. Because of this, it has become very difficult to get to the airport where they can get airlifted to emergency services 600 miles away in Anchorage.
So the residents petitioned for a small single-lane gravel road through a 206 acre strip of the Refuge open only to emergency vehicles. They have been repeatedly denied. Apparently an ecologically friendly gravel path (sorry, a single lane road is basically a footpath) would somehow devastate the landscape.
Labor complications, heart issues, etc? Sorry, can’t have you passing by some animals and trees. 11 people have died specifically due to the issue of difficulty in getting to proper care caused by this ban. The attempt to get this tiny unpaved road has been denied repeatedly. It’s okay to cut down a forest of trees and chop up birds that would cost hundreds of thousands in fines for anyone else, but god forbid a small gravel footpath intrude.
The Moral of the Story
So what is the point? Well just this: Don’t rely on the government to get it right. There are endless cogs in that machine and half the time they are each working against one another. The decisions are based on what will get someone re-elected or on an ideal without humanity behind it. Learn to work out ways for yourself. Only involve government agencies when you must. Most of all, know that every decision you make comes at a cost. Which choice will do the most good and cause the least harm? No one pushing for the wind farm was thinking it would have a hand in destroying a pristine portion of what they wanted to protect. No person pushing for the Wildlife Reserve was saying to themselves how much they wanted to kill other people. The ones standing rigid on issues or the ones bending aren’t thinking that what they are doing is anything except the greater good. Do for yourself and you will know that what is being done is in keeping with your own ethics.