Interior Department releases voluntary guidelines for wind power and wildlife
The guidelines set up a tiered approach for developers to use in siting wind farms, during construction and after wind turbines become operational. They are the result of a five-year effort by the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In a conference call with reporters, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said the voluntary nature of the guidelines were similar in their approach to wildlife protection as those for other energy sectors such as oil and gas and electricity transmission. Companies that follow the guidelines in good faith won’t be subject to legal enforcement by the department.
Definitive statistics on the number of birds killed by wind towers are hard to come by, but a 2008 study estimated more than 440,000 birds are killed each year. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said changes in technology and the replacement of the first generation of wind turbines from 30 years ago likely mean that figure is now much lower. Ashe said it was more important to know where and what kinds of birds were dying as a result of collisions with wind towers.
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