Thursday, March 10, 2011

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Release of Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released a draft of its land-based wind energy guidelines along with the release of its draft eagle conservation plan. Comments on both drafts will be accepted through May 2011. HMANA’s conservation and education committee and its board of directors will be reviewing the guidelines over the next few months in preparation for meeting those deadlines.

A preliminary review of the draft land-based wind energy guidelines finds a document capable of establishing preconstruction study and post-construction monitoring parameters that can improve an understanding of the risks wind power projects pose to raptors (and other birds and bats). Both the American Bird Conservancy and the American Wind Energy Association have weighed in on the guidelines: ABC faults the guidelines because they are voluntary and not compulsory; AWEA complains that the guidelines diverge unduly from the recommendations of the Federal Advisory Committee convened to review and revise the original USFWS guidance. The AWEA also claims the current draft guidance would overly burden wind power developers and unnecessarily prolong the period required for environmental clearances.

If after a thorough review of the guidelines the favorable preliminary opinion of them holds, HMANA will comment strongly in their favor in the hope that HMANA support will help preserve their value.

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