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Fish & Wildlife turbine siting guidelines available for comment

On February 8, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released two draft documents containing guidelines designed to provide agency employees, developers, other federal agencies and state organizations information needed to make the best possible decisions in the review and selection of sites for wind energy facilities to avoid and minimize negative impacts to fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats. The guidelines have now been published in the Federal Register (February 18, 2011) and are now open for public comment for 90 days until May 19, 2011.

The Draft Voluntary, Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines [1] have been developed for industry to avoid and minimize impacts to federally protected migratory birds and bats and other impacted wildlife resulting from site selection, construction, operation and maintenance of land-based, wind energy facilities.

The Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance [2] was developed to provide interpretive guidance to wind developers, Service biologists who evaluate potential impacts on eagles from proposed wind energy projects, and others in applying the regulatory permit standards as specified by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and other federal laws.

Email comments can be submitted to windenergy@fws.gov [3]. Please include “Wind Energy Guidelines Comments” or “Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance Comments” in the subject line, and your full name and return address in the body of the message. Please note that the email address will be closed when the public comment period closes.

Alternatively, you may submit comments or recommendations by mail to:

Attention: Wind Energy Guidelines; Division of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop 4107; Arlington, VA 22203-1610

or

Attention: Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance; Division of Migratory Bird Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop 4107; Arlington, VA 22203-1610

[The American Wind Energy Association opposes these guidelines and will be providing comments.]

Questions for Consideration in Providing Public Comment

Voluntary, Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

  1. The approach, utility, consistency, detail, and scientific validity of the draft Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines (Guidelines).
  2. Use of the Guidelines as regulatory for wind facility development on all Federal lands. At a minimum, regulatory for all Department of Interior jurisdictional lands where commercial, wind projects are being/might be constructed (e.g., National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service lands).
  3. Use and application of the Guidelines for a residential/farm sized turbine.
  4. Use of the draft Guidelines, once finalized, as regulatory versus voluntary on all lands, public and private.

Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance

  1. How could the Guidance better address issues related to windpower development?
  2. Comments on the substance of the Guidance, particularly on ACPs, compensatory mitigation, and new or expanded definitions.
  3. What additional requirements may be necessary to ensure that wind-energy programmatic permits comply with the Eagle Act?
  4. Should the Guidance be voluntary or mandatory?
  5. If the Guidance should not be binding in their entirety, which provisions should be binding?
  6. How could the Guidance better address the responsibilities of Tribal, State, and Federal agencies?
  7. How could the Guidance be applied to other industries or activities?

[More information is available at www.fws.gov/windenergy/ [4].]