Friday, February 10, 2006

Groups raise concern over efforts by wind industry to revise USFWS' interim guidance outside federal law

[press release]

Rowe, MA (February 10, 2006). National Wind Watch, Inc., the Humane Society of the United States, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, and Juniata Valley Audubon, Chapter of National Audubon Society, called on Interior Secretary Gale Norton and other federal officials to confirm whether the Fish and Wildlife Service intends to comply with the basic openness and accountability of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) with regard to the "collaborative process" being pushed by wind energy proponents to revise the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Interim Guidance on Avoiding and Minimizing Wildlife Impacts from Wind Turbines.

In a letter to Secretary Norton and others, the groups cited the critical importance of the FWS adhering to FACA requirements for public access and accountability given the "significant public controversy surrounding the impact of wind turbines on our nation's treasured wildlife -- in particular on bats and birds -- and considering the current rapid expansion of wind power throughout the country and the potentially devastating impact this expansion could have on wildlife if the turbines are not properly sited." In the letter, the groups stated "We are very concerned that if the FWS does not fulfill this FACA requirement, then the process will simply be an opportunity for the wind power industry to force its views on the agency, and will result in the agency revising its Interim Guidance in a manner that makes turbine siting and operation easier for the industry, but detrimental to wildlife."

The first meeting of the Policy Group for the collaborative was scheduled for February 9, 2006 in Washington, DC. The meeting was canceled when the Fish and Wildlife Service advised participants that it needed more time to evaluate the applicability of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to the collaborative process.

National Wind Watch spokesperson, Lisa Linowes, was pleased with the FWS response to the letter but expressed concerned that the collaborative effort was permitted to go as far as it did. "The groups represented by the letter have consistently raised legitimate and important conservation concerns about industrial wind power projects. It is essential that there be a fair representation of our views and expertise," she said. The letter was submitted to the Interior Department by Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, a public-interest law firm in Washington D.C..

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