26 March 2012

U.S. announces onshore wind energy guidelines

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Photo: DOI
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Photo: DOI
The voluntary guidelines, released by the Department of the Interior, help wind energy developers avoid and minimize impacts of land-based projects on wildlife and their habitats.

The guidelines, designed to be used for all utility-scale, community-scale, and distributed land-based wind energy projects on both private and public lands, will help shape the smart siting, design and operation of the nation's growing wind energy economy.

The guidelines will also assist developers identify additional steps, review processes and permits that may be needed to ensure compliance with federal laws.

"We're committed to working with developers to ensure that wind energy projects are built in the right places and operated in the right way," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as announcing the guidelines.

"These voluntary guidelines have been developed through an intensive public process with significant help from the wind energy industry, state agencies, and wildlife conservation groups and are designed to achieve the best outcome for wildlife and wind energy development," Salazar said.

Using a tiered approach, the guidelines provide a structured, scientific process for developers, federal and state agencies, and tribes to identify sites with low risk to wildlife, and to help them assess, mitigate, and monitor any adverse effects of wind energy projects on wildlife and their habitats.

"We've spent years getting them right, and I believe they will help guide the responsible development of wind energy in America for decades to come," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

The voluntary guidelines replace voluntary interim guidelines issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003.

"By collaborating with conservationists instead of slugging it out, the wind power industry gains vital support to expand and create jobs, and wildlife gets the protection crucial for survival," said David Yarnold, President & CEO of Audubon. "These federal guidelines are a game-changer and big win for both wildlife and clean energy."

"These guidelines set the highest standard, either voluntary or mandatory, of wildlife protection for any industry," said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.

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