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Faced with notice of ESA violations, FWS agrees to reconsider biological opinion for Shaffer Mountain Wind Project

On November 3, 2011, we submitted a detailed notice letter on behalf of several conservation groups pointing out the serious scientific and legal errors with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 Biological Opinion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would have allowed construction and operation of an industrial wind farm in the midst of a critical maternity colony of endangered Indiana bats.  In issuing its opinion, the Service ignored the views of the nation’s leading bat biologists who pressed the Service to consider alternatives to placing a project in this sensitive location, and also applied faulty population models in an effort to greenlight this project that will not only kill highly imperiled Indiana bats, but also golden eagles and migratory birds.  In light of our letter, the Service recently announced that it will reinitiate ESA consultation to consider new evidence before moving forward with a revised Biological Opinion.  In turn, the Corps has agreed to hold its decisionmaking in abeyance, pending the Service’s revised Biological Opinion.  Here are our notice letter, the FWS’s reinitiation letter, and the Corps’ reinitiation letter.