The American Bird Conservancy is pressing the Interior Department to issue regulations "establishing a mandatory permitting system for the operation of wind energy projects and mitigation of their impacts on migratory birds," ABC said in a news release announcing the filing of a rulemaking petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Here's the petition, and ABC's "bird-smart" principles.
Short-eared owl eyes its prey (from FWS, Sand Lake NWR, South Dakota)
Table of Contents:
FWS must encourage wind energy development by providing the industry a concrete and lawful means to comply with the MBTA (page 74)
From the Executive summary:
FWS has prepared “voluntary” Guidelines in an attempt to address the impacts of wind energy projects on migratory birds instead of imposing mandatory regulatory obligations on wind energy projects to anticipate and avoid such impacts before they occur. By allowing the industry itself to make siting decisions in this manner, FWS has permitted widespread disregard for legal mandates the Service is entrusted to enforce. Further, while the Guidelines essentially treat the agency as a quasi-permitting authority requiring it to evaluate extensive information and provide advice to the developers, unlike a formal permitting system, FWS neither obtains appropriate permit fees (which typically provide some amount of resources and revenue to the agency), nor does the wind industry obtain unequivocal regulatory certainty for incidental take of migratory birds.
ABC recognizes that properly sited and operated wind energy projects may be an important part of the solution to climate change, a phenomenon that indisputably poses an unprecedented threat to species and ecosystems. However, such projects also pose a serious threat to various species of birds, including large birds of prey and raptors such as the Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, American Peregrine Falcon, Short-eared Owl, and Flammulated Owl; endangered and threatened species such as the California Condor, Whooping Crane, Snail Kite, Marbled Murrelet, Hawaiian Goose, and Hawaiian Petrel; and other species of special conservation concern such as the Bicknell’s Thrush, Sprague’s Pipit, Cerulean Warbler, Oak Titmouse, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Brewer’s Sparrow, Long-billed Curlew, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Blue-winged Warbler. These species are impacted by existing wind energy projects and threatened by potential projects primarily through collision with wind turbines and associated power lines, and through loss or modification of essential habitat.
Based on the operation of approximately 22,000 turbines, FWS estimated in 2009 that at least 440,000 birds were killed each year by wind turbines. By 2020, there are expected to be more than 100,000 wind turbines in the United States and these are expected to kill at least one million birds each year, an estimate that ABC believes will be exceeded significantly. Further, wind energy projects are also expected to impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial habitat, and another 4,000 square miles of marine habitat.