New Wind-energy Policy Could Make Wind Farms Safer for Wildlife

BREAKING: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released today voluntary guidelines for wildlife and wind energy development. 

The guidelines could improve on how wind energy development is done today — encouraging the use of the best available scientific information and early public engagement in a project’s planning phase, as well as post-construction wildlife monitoring and a comprehensive strategy for mitigating unavoidable impacts.

“Wind energy is an important part of our clean energy future, but to fully realize the benefits of wind power, projects have to be built in the right ways and right places to avoid and minimize their impacts on wildlife,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders’ president and CEO. “If implemented correctly, these guidelines will become part of a larger approach that encourages renewable energy companies to be ‘smart from the start’.”

The guidelines apply to private and public lands, imperiled wildlife (like many bat species) not already protected by the Endangered Species or Migratory Bird Treaty acts, and habitats not under FWS’ jurisdiction – lessening the likelihood that wind energy projects will further threaten species in decline.

“Responsible wind energy development means requiring strong standards for protecting wildlife and their habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wind energy guidelines are a good first step,” she said.

Defenders of Wildlife sat on the federal advisory committee – comprised of scientists, industry representatives, state and federal agencies, tribes, conservation organizations and others – whose recommendations formed the foundation for the new guidelines.

“These guidelines were developed after lengthy discussions with scientists, conservation organizations, wind industry representatives, tribes, state wildlife agencies and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Wind-energy developers who choose to follow the voluntary guidelines will have more certainty that their projects can move forward,” Clark said.