Another new study: Fracking kills birds; Reduces subsequent bird population counts by 15% while “wind turbines do not have any measurable impact”

Quantifying the Effects of Energy Infrastructure on Bird Populations and Biodiversity by Erik Katovich, Dec 28, 2024, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2024, 58, 1, 323–332

Copyright © 2023 American Chemical Society


Abstract Image

Shale oil and gas production and wind energy generation both expanded rapidly across the United States between 2000 and 2020, raising concerns over impacts on wildlife. I combine longitudinal microdata from the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count with geolocated registries of all wind turbines and shale wells constructed in the contiguous U.S. during this period to estimate the causal effects of these contrasting types of energy infrastructure on bird populations and biodiversity, which are key bellwethers of ecosystem health. Results show that the onset of shale oil and gas production reduces subsequent bird population counts by 15%, even after adjusting for location and year fixed effects, weather, counting effort, and land-use changes. Wind turbines do not have any measurable impact on bird counts. Negative effects of shale are larger when wells are drilled within important bird habitats.

The Supporting Information is available free of charge at

Supplementary figures, tables, and robustness exercises that are referenced throughout the manuscript (PDF)

Graph A.3 is my favourite of the supplemental information in the study. Was media lying to turn the public against wind energy, while down reporting frac harms to birds to make us accept the deadly new invasive arm of the oil and gas industry?


R Newman@RNewmanND Feb 27, 2024:

everybody worries about birds and bats being whacked. Yes, it is bad, but the visible body count is miniscule compared to the impacts of burning fossil fuels and resulting climate change. To say nothing of deaths caused by domestic cats.

Refer also to:

2023: How do we clean secret frac, drilling, servicing chemicals from our homes? New study says after wildfires we must clean our homes, contents, clothes and replace HEPA filters.

How do trees clean their leaves from frac pollution and wildfire smoke when it doesn’t rain?

2023: Wildfires 2023 Canada: More than 44 million acres burned (so far), hundreds of thousands of animals and migratory birds estimated dead. How many fish, insects and other small species roasted? What will survivors eat or shelter in?

2023: Frac noise hurts; frac noise harms health

2022: Sandra Steingraber: Happy 60th to Silent Spring. What would Rachel Carson say about frac’ing?

2022: Unnecessary Noise: “The cruel absence of care” living invaded by Encana/Ovintiv’s (now Lynx) frac compressors for 20 years with my legal right to quiet enjoyment of home and land violated.

2021: Study: Total VOC emissions from natural gas compressors related to higher human mortality rates.

2021: New study: Songbirds’ reproductive success reduced by natural gas compressor noise.

2021: Natural gas industry noise even detrimental to plants, while AER enables industrial noise pollution to cumulatively escalate

2020: Frac’er WPX made it rain toxic water upon New Mexico, sickens family, kills livestock, birds fell dead from the poisoned sky. As everywhere, the “regulator” did nothing but protect the company, issued no penalty. WPX does not have to disclose details on the toxic chemicals that rained on the family for proprietary reasons. Penny Aucoin: “This has ruined our lives in so many different ways. Our health, family relations, financial problems, literally all aspects of our lives. It has become a living nightmare.”

2018: Synergizing Canadian Courts Enabling Polluters: BC Judge gives Painted Pony Energy PR gift (makes the company look good by “giving” to NGOs) instead of ordering real punishment for killing migratory birds in frac fluid tank

2016: Canada: $750,000 Fine For Killing 7,500 Migratory Birds from Direct or Indirect Contact with Canaport’s LNG Burning Natural Gas Flare Stack in New Brunswick

2013: Denbury fined $662,500 for Mississippi blowout of CO2 injected in high pressure enhanced oil recovery, So much carbon dioxide came out that it settled in hollows, suffocating deer and other animals

2013: My past kitchen window view:

American Gold Finches in trembling aspen that I planted, view from my kitchen window at Rosebud.

It’s no longer my view. Nearly all trees I planted on my land have died. Aspen (and humans) do not tolerate extreme heat, which has been steadily increasing at Rosebud.

And most of the song birds that used to make my land home, no longer do. Pre-frac’ing, 50 to 60 gold finch pairs nested at my place, every year. I love their feisty antics and happy song. Not anymore. How much has frac pollution, notably compressor noise (which invades my land 24/7, abusing my sternum, ears and soul) and wildfire smoke contributed to diminished song bird numbers at my place and killed the trees?

It was heart-ripping for me to observe bird populations at Rosebud diminish more and more each year after Encana/Ovintiv’s frac invasion began in 2001, then, ripped more when I lost my wonderful water supply to the company’s callous greed and law violations (ignored by regulators).

The harm I find most difficult to cope with is the blind love, worship and protection most prairie people have for the industry that is destroying life on earth.

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