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Secretary of the Interior Salazar Announces Additional Steps toward Smarter Development of Renewable Energy on U.S. Public Lands
February 8, 2011

Photo Caption: Wind Turbines Credit: Joshua Winchell / USFWS
Photo Caption: Wind Turbines Credit: Joshua Winchell / USFWS

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced a number of initiatives designed to encourage rapid and responsible development of renewable energy on public lands. The proposals from the Department's Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the policy guidance from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provide clarity and guidance to stakeholders, including developers and employees, about smart siting and effective mitigation for renewable energy projects.

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The Fish and Wildlife Service and Wind Energy Development

wind turbine

Advances in wind turbines technologies and increased interest in renewable energy sources have resulted in rapid expansion of the wind energy industry in the United States.

The Fish and Wildlife Service's Conservation Planning Assistance Program (CPA) typically becomes involved in the review of potential wind energy developments on public lands through the National Environmental Policy Act. This may be as a cooperating agency or because of the Service's responsibilities under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, or because of the Agency's special technical expertise.  CPA may also become involved in the review of potential wind energy developments on private lands if our technical expertise in addressing wildlife issues is requested on a voluntary basis.

Recently, the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee, established by the Secretary of the Interior, provided recommendations to the Secretary on developing effective measures to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats related to land-based wind energy facilities.  The Fish and Wildlife Service will use these recommendations to develop voluntary wind energy guidelines. For updates on the development of the voluntary guidelines please visit the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory website.

Wind Energy Facts

  • Commercial wind energy plants have been constructed in 36 States, with over 35,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity in place by the end of 2009.* 
  • Wind energy provided 1.8% of U.S. power in 2009.*
  • One megawatt of electricity is enough to power 225-300 households
  • Wind-generated electrical energy is renewable, produces no emissions, and is generally environmentally clean technology.  However, wind energy facilities can adversely impact wildlife, especially birds and bats, and their habitats.
  • Development of wind energy, and other sources of renewable energy, is strongly endorsed by the Secretary of the Interior, as expressed in Secretarial Order 3285, Renewable Energy Development by the Department of the Interior.

* From the American Wind Energy Association’s U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2009.

Other Service Program Roles in Wind Energy Development

  • The Fish and Wildlife Service is required by the Endangered Species Act to assist other Federal agencies in ensuring that any action they authorize, implement, or fund, including wind energy developments, will not jeopardize the continued existence of any federally endangered or threatened species.
  • The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act requires that any activity on Refuge lands be determined as compatible with the Refuge system mission and Refuge purpose(s). Compatibility determinations are made by the Service's Refuge Managers.
  • Proposed offshore wind energy facilities within 3 miles of the coast currently require a permit under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Conservation Planning Assistance Program routinely provides Section 10 permit application review and comment.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act, which both protect species that may potentially be affected by wind energy development.  Migratory bird program and CPA staff assist wind energy developers in the formation of Avian and Bat Protection Plans, designed to avoid and minimize impacts to birds and bats.

Other Related Sites:

U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory

U.S. Department of Energy - Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program

Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development

National Wind Coordinating Collaborative

Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative

American Wind Wildlife Institute

Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee

Wind Energy Development Information

Last updated: February 19, 2013
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