What's Killing the Birds?

August 2009

lesser_prairie_chicken Waterfowl, hawks, and owls died when they were exposed to natural-gas pits and waste water from Exxon Mobil Corp.'s drilling and production facilities in five states, including Colorado, writes The New York Times, which reports that the company pleaded guilty in a federal court in Denver yesterday. But oil and gas aren't alone anymore when it comes to threatening species, such as Colorado's lesser prairie chicken (pictured). The wind-energy industry, hailed as a cost-effective and environmentally clean way to produce power, is sprawling into habitats. As Newsweek writes, "Critics charge that wind-energy development can cause habitat fragmentation---a displacement of a species that can eventually reduce its numbers---as well as the deaths of birds and bats (a species that is especially vulnerable due to its low reproductive rates) that collide with the wind turbines' massive rotor blades." As that debate rages, Exxon Mobil will shell out $600,000 in a plea agreement with the Justice Department and make changes to prevent more birds from dying in the future, according to The Denver Post.