Background: In 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) originally released draft guidelines for wind energy. In response to concerns raised about that document, the Service created a Federal Advisory Committee in 2007 to make recommendations on guidelines. The Advisory Committee included representatives of states, tribes, and leading wildlife conservation groups such as Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, Bat Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy, along with industry. The Advisory Committee made consensus recommendations in March 2010 that were endorsed by all of the participants. Then, in February 2011, USFWS released another draft version. Public comment on that version ended in May. Last week, in response to the public comments received, including feedback from the Advisory Committee at a meeting in April, the Service released another revised version and held a day and a half meeting this week to get feedback from the Advisory Committee and the public.
AWEA Senior Director of Federal Regulatory Affairs Tom Vinson released the following statement today in response to this week's meeting and the revised guidelines:
"We wish to thank Secretary Salazar, Deputy Secretary Hayes, their staffs and the leadership of the USFWS and USFWS staff for their hard work and commitment to preparing workable guidelines for wind energy and wildlife conservation. We would also like to thank the Federal Advisory Committee members for their time over the last three years in negotiating consensus recommendations that earned the support of states, conservation organizations, and industry. That broad consensus was an extraordinary achievement.
"We are encouraged by the most recent draft of the wind energy guidelines released last week and discussed at the Advisory Committee meeting yesterday and today. We appreciate that the Service listened to the many thoughtful public comments that were submitted and revised the document in many important ways that make it more consistent with the consensus recommendations from states, conservation organizations, and industry.
"There are a handful of issues that could use some clarification in the final version. But, the Service is very close to having a document that will achieve significant conservation benefits for wildlife, while still being workable for the development of clean energy. We are optimistic that the remaining issues can be resolved to the satisfaction of all over the next several weeks.
The industry looks forward to having workable final voluntary guidelines that will hold our industry to a higher standard for wildlife analysis and protection than any other industry in the country.We take our conservation responsibilities seriously."