Environmentalists Sue Trump To Once Again Make It Illegal To Accidentally Kill An Eagle

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

A coalition of environmental groups are suing the Trump administration for reversing an Obama-era policy of prosecuting companies and individuals that accidentally kill or injure protected birds.

The National Audubon Society led environmental groups in suing the Department of the Interior (DOI) Thursday over the department’s interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“The new policy makes it much harder to protect birds from major bird traps — threats like oil pits, wind turbines and communication towers in bird migration hotspots,” American Bird Conservancy, a group involved in the lawsuit, President Mike Parr said in a statement. “Leaving these threats unattended is like leaving manhole covers off along the sidewalk during rush hour — it’s negligent, irresponsible and guaranteed to cause harm.”

Former-President Barack Obama attempted in 2016 to enshrine in law that the unintentional killing of birds could be prosecuted, but the proposal was reversed soon after President Donald Trump came into office. For decades, the DOI had interpreted the MBTA to apply to unintentional bird killings.

The DOI published a legal opinion last year changing its stance on unintentional bird killings after a series of appeals courts decided federal officials had been interpreting the statute too broadly. (RELATED: Trump Will Reverse Obama’s Policy Of Prosecuting Unintentional Bird Killings)

Operations from wind turbines, solar farms and oil companies have led to the accidental killing of birds, though the Obama administration largely gave renewable energy development a pass despite killing hundreds of thousands of birds a year.

Renewable energy interests were glad to see the policy go, regardless.

“This is a welcome change,” Solar Energy Industries of America Vice President of Federal Affairs Christopher Mansour told The Daily Caller News Foundation in December. “These are sensible reforms that provide much-needed clarity and regulatory certainty to solar developers.”

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