Regulations for the Wind Industry Sought for by Bird Conservation Group
January 4, 2012
The American Bird Conservancy (ABC), together with the Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal (MGC), a public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C., filed a petition to the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) seeking for regulations that would establish a permitting system that would encompass wind energy projects as well as the mitigation the impact of these projects on migratory birds.
ABC said that their proposal would ascertain that there would be compliance by wind developers of permit requirements, and that they would not be made subjects to civil or criminal penalties for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).
According to government estimates, there are about 440,000 birds that are killed every year because of collisions with wind turbines. The group also estimated that by 2020, more than a million birds would be killed if the United States would expand its wind power.
The legal authority by which the FWS can enforce the MBTA regulations was also outlined in the petition. It also included a regulatory language that will result to the accomplishment of the objectives of the petition, where factors are identified in evaluating the permit for the approval. And, it was also stated how a particular project could have an adverse effect to birds and other species that are being considered to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
According to the ABC Wind Campaign Coordinator, Kelly Fuller, “ABC is filing this petition because it’s clear that the voluntary guidelines the government has drafted will neither protect birds nor give the wind industry the regulatory certainty it has been asking for. We’ve had voluntary guidelines since 2003, and yet preventable bird deaths at wind farms keep occurring. This includes thousands of Golden Eagles that have died at Altamont Pass in California and multiple mass mortality events that have occurred recently in West Virginia.” ABC also said that the group supports wind power if it can be considered as “bird smart.”