That’s an eagle who’d been feasting on the carcass in the foreground as I drove across 110th in Freeborn County. There’s a nest off to the right (west) a bit that the Freeborn Wind developers and Dept. of Commerce don’t want to acknowledge. Wind projects are supposed to be a ways from eagle nests and foraging grounds.

A CNN article today raised this issue today, near the 2nd anniversary of a tRump administration “clarification” that stated that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not prohibit incidental takes.

From that CNN post:

According to emails obtained by the Times, when the Michigan Department of Natural resources emailed the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service seeking clarification if it could cut down trees, they were told “The recent M -Opinion also removes the prohibition to removing trees with active nests as long as the intent of the action is the cutting of the trees (in this case for timber harvest).” The agency did lay out potential ways to limit the damage done to the birds and nests, but noted those actions were “strictly voluntary.”

So it looks like taking down trees with nests in them would be OK for right-of-way clearing, or removing “hazard trees” by wind project?

Wind and transmission projects in this area often, if not always, have required eagle take permits (how many Decorah eagles died due to transmission lines? Four, I think!). But with the tRump administration “deconstructing the administrative state” at every turn, well, guess what was issued? Open season on migratory birds. It’s the 2 year anniversary of removal of protections:

From this memo

For the reasons explained below, this Memorandum finds that, consistent with the text, history, and purpose of the MBTA, the
statute’s prohibitions on pursuing, hunting, taking, capturing, killing, or attempting to do the same apply only to affirmative actions that have as their purpose the taking or killing of migratory birds, their nests, or their eggs.

Yes, you heard that right, as of December 22, 2017, federal policy, interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, requires an take permit only for those activities that have the PURPOSE of “taking” a bird covered under the Act. So we won’t be seeing take permits required for wind and transmission projects.

And yet despite that policy turn around, he says things like this last week at “Turning Point.” He probably doesn’t even know that incidental takes are not an issue for wind projects:

So they make these things and then they put them up.  And if you own a house within vision of some of these monsters, your house is worth 50 percent of the price.  They’re noisy.  They kill the birds.  You want to see a bird graveyard?  You just go.  Take a look.  A bird graveyard.  Go under a windmill someday.  You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen ever in your life.  (Laughter.)

You know, in California, they were killing the bald eagle.  If you shoot a bald eagle, they want to put you in jail for 10 years.  A windmill will kill many bald eagles.  It’s true.

And you know what?  After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off.  That’s true, by the way.  This is — they make you turn it off after you — and yet, if you killed one they put you in jail.  That’s okay.  But why is it okay for these windmills to destroy the bird population?  And that’s what they’re doing.

But FYI, bird takes have dropped dramatically in technology changes since the days of the Altamont Pass small turbine bird blenderizers. With larger, slower blades, spaced further apart fewer birds die. But some do! Particularly an issue if turbines are installed in migratory pathways, or foraging areas. Hence the need for a take permit, for siting away from bird areas, an attempt to put a limit on kills. That bird kills have been lowered doesn’t mean there’s reason to eliminate the take permits, no reason to eliminate prohibitions. WHY?

How many investigations on Trump, his campaign, and his administration are now in the works?  Well, here’s another!

The Inspector General of Department of Health and Human Services has opened an investigation into Trump’s “decision to stop paid advertisements and temporarily suspend other outreach efforts directed at Marketplace enrollment in the final days of the 2016-2017 open enrollment season.”  What that means is that tRump stopped advertising and outreach for registration for Obamacare.

Here’s his letter acknowledging the investigation:

2017-3-23_HHS_IG_Letter_re_ACA_enrollment

When the Inspector General gets going, that’s something to take seriously.  There was no authorization to stop advertising, already paid by Obama administration, nor was there authorization to stop free social media/email notice to folks of the deadline.  The tail end of the open enrollment period is always when there are the most sign-ups, and reaching people in that time frame is crucial.  Failing to advertise, stopping outreach, works against filling the pool to spread the risk.  Some call that sabotage.  Yeah, that sounds apt.

One more thing to nail tRump and his administration on, it just keeps piling up.