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Gohmert says birds are bursting in air as he blasts infrastructure bill’s renewable energy projects

Texas Republican decries renewable energy projects, saying, “This is the green stuff that is just out of control and is going to bring the nation down.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert has birds on the brain. Decrying the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that recently passed the Senate, the Tyler Republican is citing bird conservancy while targeting some forms of renewable energy production.

During a Thursday appearance on the far-right One America News Network, Gohmert spoke at length about a solar farm on the California-Nevada border, with thousands of acres of “concave mirrors that magnify the sun toward three towers that heat up the liquid in there and turn turbines.”

He was likely referring to the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a solar thermal plant that covers roughly five square miles of federal land in California.

“But they weren’t anticipating that there would be hundreds and thousands of what they would call ‘flamers,’” Gohmert said. “Because when the birds fly through, if they survive the windmills, then they hit that magnified sun, explode in flames, and down they go, bird guts all... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Texas Republican decries renewable energy projects, saying, “This is the green stuff that is just out of control and is going to bring the nation down.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert has birds on the brain. Decrying the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that recently passed the Senate, the Tyler Republican is citing bird conservancy while targeting some forms of renewable energy production.

During a Thursday appearance on the far-right One America News Network, Gohmert spoke at length about a solar farm on the California-Nevada border, with thousands of acres of “concave mirrors that magnify the sun toward three towers that heat up the liquid in there and turn turbines.”

He was likely referring to the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a solar thermal plant that covers roughly five square miles of federal land in California.

“But they weren’t anticipating that there would be hundreds and thousands of what they would call ‘flamers,’” Gohmert said. “Because when the birds fly through, if they survive the windmills, then they hit that magnified sun, explode in flames, and down they go, bird guts all over the mirrors.”

Gohmert’s comments, while skewed, have a kernel of truth to them, according to environmental experts and scientific research.

A 2016 study estimated that anywhere from roughly 37,800 to 138,600 birds die because of large solar farms, though researchers cautioned that those numbers are based on preliminary data still being analyzed. Some birds may singe their feathers in the “solar flux” from the mirrors Gohmert was likely referring to, later dying because of impaired flying ability.

Yet most environmental and wildlife experts concur that climate change – and traditional fossil fuel production – pose more of an existential threat to bird populations.

“It’s disingenuous to point the finger at renewable energy as the cause of bird declines, when it’s more about habitat loss and climate change,” said Stacy Small-Lorenz, an avian ecologist and former senior scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund.

When humans clear and develop land, Small-Lorenz said, we simultaneously contribute to climate change by burning fossil fuels and releasing tons of carbon into the atmosphere, as well as destroying bird habitats.

Many birds have also adapted to specific geographic weather conditions. So sustained impacts from climate change – such as extreme and frequent droughts and wildfires – can affect their survival, reducing food and water supply and impacting future reproduction for many bird populations, Small-Lorenz said.

“We need to encourage as much locally produced renewable energy as possible,” Small-Lorenz said, adding that while design adjustments are necessary to prevent the kind of mass fatalities Gohmert was referring to, those require innovation and funding – in many cases, from the government. “That just makes an even stronger case for investment in research and development that is required to do renewable energy safely for humans and wildlife.”

Pointing the finger at renewable energy production as a major threat to birds is also misleading, considering that as many as one billion birds each year die from colliding with buildings, Small-Lorenz said.

Gohmert’s bid for bird conservancy was part of his critique of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which would pave the way for $73 billion in clean energy transmission investments.

That legislation, which passed the Senate this week, contains other measures to incorporate climate change solutions into American infrastructure, promising funding for numerous green projects to transform roads, bridges and transit across the country.

The bipartisan bill, one of President Joe Biden’s campaign priorities, mirrors some key ideas of the “Green New Deal” framework championed by progressives like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It has become a flashpoint for conservative politicians.

“This is the green stuff that is just out of control and is going to bring the nation down,” Gohmert said.

Gohmert’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

This is the most recent of Gohmert’s forays into climate science that have captured national attention and prompted ridicule. In June, he asked a Forest Service official if the agency could relocate the orbits of the moon and the Earth to prevent solar storm activity.


Source: https://www.dallasnews.com/...

AUG 13 2021
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