Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

September 24,. 2008

CONTACT:            Randy Wilkerson, 720-962-7056, wilkerson@wapa.gov

                                Lloyd Jones, 701-355-8529, lloyd_jones@fws.gov

 

PUBLIC MEETINGS SET FOR WIND-ENERGY ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY

 

LAKEWOOD, Colo.—As the number of proposed wind energy projects in the Upper Great Plains increases, Western Area Power Administration (Western) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to evaluate the environmental, social and economic impacts of wind energy development in Western's Upper Great Plains Region (all or parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and on the Service's grassland and wetland easements in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. The PEIS also will identify typical environmental impacts of wind energy development; mitigation strategies, standard construction practices, and best management practices; and establish a comprehensive environmental program for evaluating future projects.

 

“The Upper Great Plains are home to some of the best wind-energy resources in the world.  This Programmatic EIS will help streamline our process to address a growing number of applications to develop the wind resource and assist in meeting our Nation’s need for renewable energy,” said Bob Harris, Western’s Upper Great Plains Regional Manager.

 

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service welcomes the opportunity to work with Western to better understand and address the rapid development of wind-energy resources on the prairies,” said Service Mountain-Prairie Region Director Steve Guertin.  “The Service, together with a wide range of partners, has invested heavily in the conservation of wetlands and grasslands in the Upper Great Plains, and our participation in this process is aimed at protecting that investment - and public trust resources, including migratory birds - as wind-energy development proceeds.”

 

Public scoping meetings to obtain comments on issues associated with wind energy development in the Upper Great Plains are scheduled for Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and 2.  Meetings will be held

September 30, Sioux Falls, S.D., Holiday Inn City Centre, 100 West 8th Street

October 1, Bismarck, N.D., Radisson Hotel, 605 East Broadway Avenue

October 2, Billings, Mont., Quality Inn Homestead Park, 2036 Overland Avenue

Registration will begin at 6 p.m., and the meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m.  All meeting locations are handicapped accessible.

 

Western and Service representatives will be available to answer questions about the PEIS.  Oral comments will be accepted immediately following introductory presentations, including an overview of wind-energy technologies, interconnections and power transmission; the Service’s landscape-level easement and avian protection programs; and the public participation process.

 

Written comments will be accepted through the online comment form at http://plainswindeis.anl.gov or by letter to

WAPA/FWS Wind Energy Programmatic EIS Scoping

Argonne National Laboratory

9700 S. Cass Avenue – EVS/900

Argonne, IL  60439

 

Valuable comments include comments and information on resources that wind-energy development may impact and comments and information that help refine preliminary alternatives and environmental issues to be analyzed in depth or that help eliminate from detailed study any alternatives and environmental issues that are not feasible or pertinent.

Comments are welcomed through the end of the public comment period, November 10.

 

Goals of the Upper Great Plains Programmatic Wind EIS and program include:

 

·      Define areas with a high potential for wind-energy development in the Upper Great Plains Region. 

·      Define the natural and human environment that may be affected by potential wind-energy development. 

·      Understand the individual and cumulative impacts to wildlife habitat and wildlife as well as highlight those areas which should be avoided.

·       Develop a streamlined approach for future environmental compliance. 

·     Develop and present mitigation measures for use by interconnection applicants. 

·      Implement an adaptive management approach that requires mitigation implementation, monitoring, and reporting. 

·      Provide an easy-to-use guide for applicants whether they are for interconnection or for the Service’s wetland or grassland easements.

 

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Western Area Power Administration annually markets and transmits more than 10,000 megawatts of power from hydroelectric powerplants owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 15 western and central states.  It is part of the Department of Energy.  Learn more about Western at www.wapa.gov.

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.