On March 23, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued its Final Voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide a structured, scientific process for the evaluation and mitigation of impacts of wind energy projects on wildlife conservation at all stages of land-based wind energy development, as well as to promote more effective communication among wind energy developers and conservation agencies at all levels of government. The guidelines’ definition of “project” is broad, including “all phases of wind energy development, including, but not limited to, prospecting, site assessment, construction, operation and decommissioning, as well as all associated infrastructure and interconnecting electrical lines.”
The final guidelines have long been awaited as a necessary response to increasing wind energy development in the U.S. The FWS originally released interim guidelines in July 2003. In an effort to address the diverse concerns of a myriad of stakeholders, the Department of the Interior established a Federal Advisory Committee to provide recommendations to revise the interim guidelines with respect to land-based wind energy facilities. In March 2007, the Department of the Interior established the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee which submitted its final recommended guidelines to the Secretary of the Interior on March 4, 2010.