GOP senators ask DOJ to explain 'targeting' of oil and gas companies over bird deaths

Vitter said that the MBTA was only intended to go after the intentional killing of birds, not unintentional acts. He said Justice pursued an MBTA case against three oil and gas companies for the death of just seven birds.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Oil and gas producers are being targeted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” Vitter said. “This wasn’t about trying to kill these birds, it was about a completely incidental killing of these birds … but that’s not what criminal sanctions under this law are about … owning a cat could be subject to criminal prosecutions if this precedent is set.”

Vitter pointed out that wind energy producers kill far more birds than oil and gas companies, but that all of the bird deaths have been unintended. He also said that as far as he knows no wind energy companies are being prosecuted for the killing of birds.

“These are important matters,” Alexander said. “The rule of law is one of the fundamental characteristics of this nation and the Department of Justice is enforcing a law against oil and gas companies and not wind energy companies.”

Alexander said the letter asks Holder to explain his decision to prosecute an oil and gas company for the incidental killing of seven birds and not to prosecute wind energy companies that regularly kill thousands of birds.

The letter specifically asks Holder how many investigations against oil and gas producers have been started under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and how many actions have been started against wind energy producers.

"Please explain the apparent targeting of oil an gas producers for violations under the MBTA," it reads. "Do you believe it is inconsistent to prosecute energy producers for the deaths of several animals among three producers at the same time the Administration condones an energy project that plans to kill between eight and fifteen bald eagles each year?"