Wind turbines kill up to 750,000 birds every year, according to Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. There’s one problem with that figure: it’s grossly overstated. Zinke also condemned wind power for its carbon footprint — which he said is significant.
Zinke said he is “pro-energy across the board” at the CERAWeek energy industry event recently — but slammed wind power, according to EcoWatch. He said production and transportation of turbines contributes to global warming, but TIME said he overstated the case — especially when compared against other energy sources. They said scientists estimate that during the life cycle of a wind turbine, the typical plant produces “between .02 and .04 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Even at the high end, that’s less than three percent of the emissions from coal-generated electricity and less than seven percent of the emissions from natural gas-generated electricity.”
And it is true that wind turbines kill birds, but not as many as Zinke claimed. Take it from the National Audubon Society: director of renewable energy Garry George said wind turbines kill between 140,000 to 328,000 birds per year. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which is part of Zinke’s department, has a chart on “Top Common Human-caused Threats to Birds” in the United States with the median/average estimated figure for collisions with wind turbines at 328,000. Meanwhile, cats kill an estimated 1.85 billion birds, building glass 676.5 million birds, and oil pits 750,000 birds. (Those are the median/average estimated figures; see the minimum to maximum ranges on the chart here.)
Zinke told his audience of people from oil-producing countries and energy companies, “Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. We should be in the business of being a partner.”