Pombo questioned on wind-power conflict of interest

Ah, they grow up so fast! You can tell that wind energy has joined the ranks of mature industries — it’s now got its very own scandal over accusations of improper influence peddling. Aides to Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), it seems, sent a letter to Interior Department officials pressuring them to suspend environmental regulations that govern the wind industry and threaten to reduce income from the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, in which Pombo’s parents have a significant financial stake. What a coinkydink! The regulations seek to reduce the number of birds sliced and diced by wind turbines, and Altamont is among the industry’s worst bird killers. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — of which Pombo is a vocal critic — several hundred raptors are killed there each year. Pombo says his precocious aides sent the letter without ever showing it to him, and anyway, in all the time he’s spent working at his parents’ Altamont ranch, he’s never seen a dead eagle or protected bird. Glad that’s cleared up.