lame duck

How Much Is A Duck Worth? $1,875

No, this isn’t a story of government waste – at least not in the thousand dollar hammer sense.  Rather, it is the value the Canadian government placed on ducks and other waterfowl that “died after landing on a tailings pond owned by one company.”

According to an excerpt from a new book on the Keystone XL Pipeline, an oil company was fined nearly $3 million for the deaths of “1,600 ducks and other waterfowl” in 2006.  Some quick math reveals the Canadian government believes a duck is worth nearly $1,875.

That is one expensive bird.

How expensive?  Well, with a bit more math we discover these ducks are worth about $230 per pound.  By some estimates, that’s even more than Japan’s legendary Kobe Beef, which clocks in around $150 per pound (or higher if properly prepared).

Let’s look at it another way.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), annual bird deaths in the United States due to wind turbines stand at 440,000 per year.  Carrying the math forward (and treating all those birds equally), the cost to wind companies in the U.S. could reach $825 million annually.

But it gets worse (for the birds and the wind companies).  The FWS estimates “[w]ith more than 100,000 turbines expected to be in operation in the United States by 2030, annual bird mortality rates alone… are expected to exceed one million.”  That would come to $1.875 billion annually by 2030.

What can one takeaway from this absurd analysis and the even more absurd Canadian fines?  Cost-benefit analyses are often misleading and punitive fines are often misaligned, especially when it comes to economy sustaining energy development.

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