Two days after President Trump seemed to express concern about birds and specifically Bald Eagles, the New York Times has exposed the Trump administration’s deadly policy on birds in general. In practice, Trump doesn’t give one hoot about avian species of any kind, but instead has all but ended punishments for killing them.
Speaking before the conservative students at Turning Point USA, Trump rambled incoherently about windmills. The President remarked, “I never understood wind,” and suggested windmills are “very expensive” and produce “tremendous fumes,” before discussing how “the world is tiny compared to the universe.”
Trump also implied that he cared that wind energy “kills all the birds” and that wind farms were offensive to him because of that.
“A windmill will kill many bald eagles,” he said, according to Mediate. “After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?”
You just have to see it to believe it because it’s that strange. See the video below from Guardian News:
Clearly, Trump would have us believe that he cares about eagles and birds in general, which is hard enough to believe by itself. The Hill notes that wind turbines kill around 150,000 birds a year, and that number is less than those killed by domestic animals, such as cats.
However, given the Trump administration’s policy on birds, it’s another case of “watch what they do and not what they say,” as Rachel Maddow often says.
In the Times, Lisa Friedman reported that the Trump administration has made it far easier for businesses and individuals in America to kill wild birds with abandon, without fear of paying fines or legal ramifications.
Even in a disaster as big as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there would be no fines today, thanks to a policy change in 2017.
“A new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 2017 means that as of now, companies are no longer subject to prosecution or fines even after a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 that destroyed or injured about one million birds and for which BP paid $100 million in fines.”
Now the federal government is turning a blind eye to bird deaths and even seems to encourage them based on the report.
“Not only has the administration stopped investigating most bird deaths, the documents show, it has discouraged local governments and businesses from taking precautionary measures to protect birds.”
Friedman points out Trump’s selective views on birds since he once complained “the oil industry has been subject to “totalitarian tactics” under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.”
It would be great if the President were truly concerned about bids, as they have declined by 2.9 billion since 1970 in the US and Canada. However, in practice, the Trump administration has made it such that killing birds doesn’t even warrant a smack on the wrist.
“In nearly two dozen incidents across 15 states, internal conversations among Fish and Wildlife Service officers indicate that, short of going out to shoot birds, activities in which birds die no longer merit action. In some cases, the Trump administration has even discouraged local governments and businesses from taking relatively simple steps to protect birds, like reporting fatalities when they are found.”
The only way that would trigger a punishment is if it could be proven that persons involved targeted birds intentionally, which is almost impossible to prove.
One hypothetical example shows how absurd it is as it would play out:
“If landowners destroy a barn knowing it is filled with baby owls, they would not be liable, as long as the intent was not to kill owls, the opinion said. The illegal spraying of a banned pesticide would not be a legal liability either as long as the birds were not the ‘intended target.'”
So, on the one hand, we have Trump pretending to care about bird deaths seemingly to prevent a shift to clean energy offered by wind farms. On the other hand, we have Trump’s policy, which makes it easier for just about anybody to kill birds in America.
Thus, the story of America’s national symbol, the Bald Eagle, and the Trump administration perfectly wraps up the lessons of the Trump presidency. While he pretends to care, anybody other than Trump had better watch their tailfeathers.