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Ryan Zinke Blames Wind Turbines for Contributing to Global Warming

At the CERAWeek energy industry conference in Houston this week, Interior Secretary

Ryan Zinke

said he’s “pro-

energy

across the board” but made it clear that he’s in favor of

oil and gas

over other types of domestic energy production.

According to

Bloomberg

, Zinke praised the

Trump

administration’s push for fossil fuels, from expanding

offshore oil drilling

to

slashing regulations

. He also advocated for a partnership with oil and gas companies.


“Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. We should be in the business of being a partner,” the former Montana Congressman said in front of representatives from energy companies and oil-producing countries.

Zinke admitted that “certainly oil and gas and coal have a consequence on carbon,” but he then slammed

wind

turbines for their carbon footprint and for killing birds—a notorious charge from his

windmill-hating boss

in the White House.

“We probably chop us as many as 750,000 birds a year with wind, and the carbon footprint on wind is significant,” Zinke said.

Zinke’s remark is peculiar for two reasons. First, as

TIME

pointed out:

“Spread out over the life cycle of a typical turbine, scientists estimate that the typical wind plant generates between .02 and .04 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Even at the high end, that’s less than 3 percent of the emissions from coal-generated electricity and less than 7 percent of the emissions from natural gas-generated electricity.”

Secondly, yes, birds are killed by turbines, but “Zinke is exaggerating the figure beyond virtually all published estimates,”

Axios

noted, adding “turbines are a drop in the bucket when it comes to the human-related causes of bird deaths.”

Here’s a graph from Zinke’s

own agency

for measure. Note how oil pits kill far many more birds than turbines.



U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Even the National Audubon Society issued a response to Zinke’s exaggerated bird-death figure, pointing out that

global warming

is far more harmful to birds.

“Wind turbines kill an estimated

140,000 to 328,000

birds each year, but the biggest threat to birds is climate change,” said Garry George, Audubon’s director of renewable energy. ”

More than half of the bird species

in North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures.”

The Audubon favors properly-sited and operated wind and solar power, as renewable energy sources that help reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change.

During the same CERAWeek talk, Zinke ranted against

solar

facilities built on public lands for taking up hunting and recreational space, Bloomberg reported.

However, the interior secretary sure doesn’t seem to object

when oil and gas interests want to take the lands

.

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