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United States

Positive surrender on wildlife bill

Proposed federal legislation that would have placed onerous requirements on the siting and operation of wind turbines to ensure the safety of wildlife is being reworded. Nick Rahall, a Democrat from West Virginia and chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, has backed away from his original hard line (Windpower Monthly, June 2007).

He is agreeing to support a less sweeping measure offered by fellow Democrat Edward Markey of Massachusetts that would see a federal Wind Turbine Guidelines Committee formed to examine how best to minimize wildlife impacts from wind turbines. It is to be made up of stakeholders from the wind industry, conservation groups and government and it will be required to report to Congress and the Secretary of the Interior within 18 months. If the legislation passes, the committee will also produce a guidance document for wind developers based on its findings.

The American Wind Energy Association's Laurie Jodziewicz says the plan formalises efforts that are already underway. The association and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been trying to get a guidelines committee started for more than a year that would take a science-based approach to the issue, she says.

Although Rahall's surrender is positive, says Jodziewicz, there is still concern about language in the bill that seems to single the wind industry out for special scrutiny. "It is not exactly what we would like to see come out of this process, but I think it represents a really good compromise," she says. The bill still has to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives.

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