Government Plays Favorites with Prosecutions

To friends of freedom, it seems obvious that the government should not be choosing favorites. On the contrary, the role of government should be limited to ensuring that the playing field is level, and industries are not subjected to different rules based on government’s understanding and support of what they do. Take, for example, the way in which an oil company is treated when birds are killed on their watch and when the same happens, to a much greater degree, due to wind turbines.  

Back in 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered that a Denver-based oil company was in violation the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska, which led to the death of a dozen migratory birds. Last week, the Denver-based oil company pled guilty in these deaths, and was fined $22,500. In addition, they are on probation for one year and must pay an additional $7,500 to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 

Earlier in 2012, the Justice Department charged several oil companies in North Dakota for the deaths of 28 migratory birds. Harold Hamm, CEO of one of the companies involved, called the move “completely discriminatory.”

However, hundreds of birds die in wind turbines, and these incidents remain largely unreported and uncensured.  Last year, nearly 500 songbirds died at a West Virginia wind farm. It had happened on two previous occasions as well, but the federal government did nothing. It’s not only the oil companies who believe that this double standard has to come to an end.  “The playing field is not leveled,” American Bird Conservancy spokesman Bill Johns said “If there had been a serious consequence the first time, there wouldn’t have been a second time and a third time. All they do now is go, ‘Whoops, my bad’ and it’s forgiven.”  A study by the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that wind farms kill nearly 500,000 birds annually in the United States. 

The wind sector is also exempt from the Eagle Protection Act. “How does an industry kill more than 2,000 eagles and not be fined once?” Johns asked. “It’s a head scratcher.” It seems highly unlikely, based on the government’s track record, that these would have gone un-prosecuted had oil companies been to blame. The list of double standards goes on and on begging the question- why are the American people allowing the government to play favorites to manipulate the market?