Policy and Practice

Amidst a Windy Congress, Some Protections for Birds

David Cassuto

I’ve blogged before about the dangers to wildlife from wind turbines.   Well, this just in: yesterday, the Department of the Interior released draft guidelines to protect wildlife from wind turbines  while calling on all involved in the industry to rigorously monitor, assess, and incorporate best practices into their designs.

The guidelines look to promote compliance with the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, as well as other relevant statutes.  They suggest a tiered approach, including preliminary evaluation or screening, site characterization, pre-construction monitoring and assessments, post construction monitoring and assessments, and research.
The guidelines will be available for public comment for 90 days following their publication in the Federal Register.  In addition, Fish & Wildlife released a Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance requiring wind project developers to assess the impacts of proposed projects on eagles protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
It would seem that even as Congress (particularly the House, but there are always others) does its level best to relegate environmental protection to the ash heap, some folks in government are still out there doing what they can.

1 Comment

  1. It seems that all sources of energy have their plusses and minuses. Potential mortality to birds and bats are serious down-sides to wind turbines. It will be important both for the future of wildlife and energy to engineer a fix to this problem. I a new book, The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World ( http://bit.ly/gATt4E ), I point out that North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas have enough wind to supply not just all the U.S.’s electricity, but all its energy. (Denmark and parts of Germany already get 20 to 30 percent of their electricity from mere moving air.) On one windy quarter-acre, a farmer can grow $300 worth of corn, or allow a company to put up a wind turbine capable of generating $300,000 worth of electricity a year. If the company pays only one percent in royalties, the farmer still makes ten times as much by farming wind. And they can still grow corn.

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