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U.S. Interior Department Revise Wind Development Regulations

The US Department of the Interior have revised regulations set up in 2009 to ensure the safety of federally protected eagles in the face of wind energy development.

The Wildlife Society have said that 2012 saw 573,000 birds killed by wind farms, a small number when compared to the damage done by communication towers, cars, and cats (each scoring millions of kills a year). And there have been several studies suggesting that the damage to birds done by wind farms is actually less than publicised.

So it is with no real surprise that we see the Department of the Interior announce changes to regulations which enable the US Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor and address the long-term impacts of renewable energy projects on eagles.

“Renewable energy development is vitally important to our nation’s future, but it has to be done in the right way,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “The changes in this permitting program will help the renewable energy industry and others develop projects that can operate in the longer term, while ensuring bald and golden eagles continue to thrive for future generations.”

According to the Department of the Interior:

In 2009, the Service began a permitting program under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act applicable to developers of renewable energy projects and other activities that may “take” (injure, kill or otherwise disturb) bald and golden eagles. The Eagle Act allows the Service to authorize the programmatic take of eagles, which is take associated with, but not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity and does not have a long-term impact on the population.

Moving forward, the maximum permit tenure will be extended to 30 years, subject to a recurring five-year review process, as well as adherence to adaptive management measures to ensure the preservation of eagles. The revision comes as part of a larger review of the 2009 Eagle Permitting Rule, as well as an extended public comments period.

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