U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) biologists have the expertise needed to review proposed energy development to identify potential resource conflicts and to recommend means to mitigate those conflicts. We recommend early consultation by project proponents and agencies. Our biologists can provide technical assistance regarding how to avoid and minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats through appropriate project siting, design, construction and operation. Service biologists will provide information about species that may be affected, sensitive or rare habitats in the area, and technical advice on sampling and monitoring protocols. Biologists also can provide guidance for developing plans for compensatory mitigation, if appropriate.

The Service uses multiple authorities to review proposed energy projects. Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Service provides a list of federally threatened and endangered species, as well as critical habitats, that are known to occur or may occur in the vicinity of a proposed project to a developer and consults on any listed species or critical habitats occurring there. If a project is proposed on private lands and federally threatened or endangered species or critical habitats are likely to be affected, then the Service may assist the developer with applying for an incidental take permit under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA.

The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act requires equal consideration and coordination of fish and wildlife conservation with other water resource development programs where the "waters of any stream or other body of water are proposed or authorized, permitted or licensed to be impounded, diverted or otherwise controlled or modified" by any agency under a Federal permit or license. Therefore, the Service must be consulted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding fish and wildlife resources at hydroelectric and hydrokinetic projects to prevent loss of and damage to those resources and to provide for the development and improvement of them. The Service may recommend conditions for the protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources for inclusion in any license issued by FERC.

Service biologists may provide information on migratory birds and impacts to their habitats, and may work with project proponents to develop plans that identify and address those impacts

Service biologists may also work with other federal agencies to complete a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review or comment on environmental documents developed by other federal agencies when reviewing an energy project under NEPA.

Some projects may involve more specific activities by Service biologists, depending on the energy resource being developed. For example:

  • The Service coordinates with the Office of Surface Mining or the State Regulatory Authority under the 2020 Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) Biological Opinion to avoid, minimize, and document take of federally proposed and listed threatened and endangered species impacted by authorized coal mining activities.
  • Service field offices review plans for major pipelines across the country. They provide assessments of fish and wildlife impacts and work with the sponsoring agency or company to mitigate those impacts. For example, the Service works with project proponents and the FERC to develop migratory bird habitat conservation plans for interstate gas pipelines, and project proponents to develop conservation plans for other interstate pipelines.
  • In addition to recommending conditions for the protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources, pursuant to the Federal Power Act (FPA) the Service may prescribe mandatory conditions for the protection and utilization of federal lands (reservations) including national wildlife refuges, waterfowl production areas, and national fish hatcheries and may also prescribe fishways for any project. FERC must include these conditions and prescriptions in any license it issues. For hydroelectric projects exempted from FERC licensing the Service may prescribe mandatory conditions to prevent loss of or damage to fish and wildlife; FERC must accept these fish and wildlife terms and conditions and include them in the exemption.
  • The Service uses the Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines to provide technical assistance to both private developers and federal agencies developing wind facilities on public and private lands. Technical assistance recommendations to reduce impacts to wildlife and their habitats may include information on siting individual turbines, best management practices for construction and operational modifications. A Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy may be compiled by a developer in order to document potential impacts to wildlife and their habitats, actions taken to avoid and reduce impacts, and any other conservation measures implemented.
  • A wind developer may decide to apply for an Eagle Take Permit under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The Service may help the developer to draft an Eagle Conservation Plan that can assist developers in avoiding and minimizing impacts to eagles, and can assist a developer in collecting the information that is required to apply for an Eagle Take Permit.

More than 80 Service Field Offices located around the U.S. can provide species-specific conservation measures for many energy activities. These measures are currently being compiled into the Information for Planning and Consultation database ( IPaC IPaC
Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) is a project planning tool that streamlines the USFWS environmental review process

Learn more about IPaC
). Until IPaC is fully operational, anyone interested in species-specific information and/or conservation measures should contact their local field office.

Find additional information and guidance on energy technologies at the Department of Energy (DoE) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

View U.S. Energy Information Administration information and statistics on energy production and use in the United States.

Learn more about the laws and policies in place to protect plants and animals affected by energy production.

Related Resources & Information

Federal and state policies on global climate change, economic recovery, and national energy security drive the development of a variety of domestic energy sources. Energy resource development is increasing, including traditional energy sources such as oil, gas and coal, and renewable sources such...

Programs

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works collaboratively with other federal agencies, industries, and other stakeholders to achieve infrastructure development goals in ways that are sustainable and compatible with the conservation of fish, wildlife, and their habitats.
The Ecological Services Program works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, we work with federal, state, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to...