BILLINGS, Mont – The Biden administration said Wednesday it would draft legislation to control the killing of wild birds by industry and resume enforcement action against companies that could have been prevented. , A long-running exercise that ended under President Donald Trump.
The move comes as the number of North American birds has declined in recent decades. The fall was marked by Wednesday’s news that the famous ivory piece of wood and 22 other species of plants and animals have become extinct.
But the administration received an immediate pushback from the oil industry, which has been the victim of high-profile cases under the Migrant Bird Treaty Act. The most notable was the 100 100 million settlement by energy company BP, when government investigators killed about 100,000 birds as a result of a 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Trump administration lifted sanctions against oil companies, utilities and other industries for killing accidental birds in 2017 after pressure from them.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America said the resumption of trials would hurt businesses that killed birds without their fault. Arkansas Republican Bruce Westerman, a senior Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, said the Biden administration intends to make the government “as heavy a hand as possible.”
Federal officials have vowed to prosecute violations of the centuries-old law. Enforcement will be reserved for cases where companies could have predicted bird deaths but no steps have been taken to prevent them.
The new rule will be drafted next year.
In drafting the rules, Ford said officials would look at a wide range of causes – from collisions with glass buildings, power lines and vehicles, to birds dying in chemical poisons and oil wells. According to government officials and researchers, millions of birds die each year from industry-related causes.
“We’ve lost about 33 billion birds in the last 50 years,” Ford said. “We want to create a common vision that works for both bird conservation and industry regulatory reassurance.”
Under then-President Barack Obama, the Department of the Interior began developing a permitting system that would allow the industry to kill a limited number of birds, but the work did not end before the Democrats left office.
The American Bird Conservancy said a permit program would force companies to install screens to keep birds away from oil wells and turn off or replace telecommunication tower lights to reduce collisions.
Conservative spokesman Jordan Rutter said: “In the case of the headlights, it’s a deer: the birds are attracted to it and then get lost,” and hit the towers.
The end of Trump’s prosecution was part of dozens of Republican environmental measures that Biden ordered to be reconsidered on the first day of his term. Former federal officials, environmental groups and Democrats in Congress have said many of Trump’s laws are intended to benefit private industry at the cost of protection.
More than 1,000 species of North American birds are included in the agreement – from fast-flying peregrine falcons to small songbirds and more than 20 owl species. Exotic species and some game birds, such as wild turkeys, are not included in the list.
Former federal officials and some scientists have said billions of more birds could die in the decades to come under Trump’s rule.
Researchers say cats kill the most birds in the United States – more than 2 billion a year.
In documents released with Wednesday’s proposal, interior officials said the future permitting system could include exemptions for non-commercial activities or “homeowner’s activities,” but did not specify.
In addition to the BP case, hundreds of enforcement cases – targeting utilities, oil companies and wind energy developers – resulted in a total of 5. 5.8 million in fines and civil penalties between 2010 and 2018.
Wednesday’s operation will take effect in 60 days, officials said.
According to wildlife officials, relatively few enforcement cases end with legal action because most companies are willing to take steps to address the risks that their operation birds may face.
Courts are divided on whether companies can be prosecuted for involuntary death of birds.
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