A recent email from Kelly Fuller, Bird-Smart Wind Coordinator at the American Bird Conservancy passed on these reminders/deadlines for comments on several Wind Energy issues:
Texas Gulf Coast Offshore Wind Project – Comments due August 17
Baryonyx is considering building 500 wind turbines offshore of Texas, in an area of state waters critical to hundreds of bird species. This would be the first offshore wind farm in the Gulf Coast. While the developer has stated publicly that it plans to do an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) rather than an EA, the Army Corps of Engineers has not determined whether the developer must do an EIS, so it’s important to ask the Army Corps to require it. The permit application is available at http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/reg/notice/PN2011-00511.pdf. Please note, the public comment deadline in the Army Corps notice has since been extended to August 17, but the notice has not been updated. You can see the August 17 date here: http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/reg/pn.asp.
Wind Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee – Next meeting August 23
According to USFWS, the Wind Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) will meet by phone on August 23. This call will be open to the public, but will require advance registration. More info. will be in the Federal Register notice, which is likely to be published early next week; registration is expected to open then. Sometime after the August 23 call, look for a Draft Three of the Voluntary Wind Energy Guidelines, followed by an in-person FAC meeting around September 20-21, also open to the public and requiring registration. For more information contact Rachel London at FWS: (703) 358-2161, ext. 2491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia Draft Guidance for Wind Permit by Rule Regulation – Comments due August 29
The State of Virginia has issued a draft of detailed guidance for its wind permitting system and is accepting public comment on the guidance through August 29. More information is available athttp://www.deq.state.va.us/export/sites/default/renewable_energy/_documents/Notice_Informal_Public_Cmnt_re_Wind_Guidance07_27_11.pdf
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, CDCA Plan Amendment – Scoping Comments due September 12
Will the USFWS allow take of endangered California Condors by California wind farms and transmission lines? As startling as that question may seem, a recent Federal Register notice suggests take permits for condors might happen in the future. Scoping has begun for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan’s EIS. In addition to Condors, other birds mentioned in the Federal Register notice include Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, American Peregrine Falcon, Greater Sandhill Cranes, Swainson’s Hawks, and Burrowing Owls. The plan will be prepared by several California and federal agencies. The Bureau of Land Management’s California Desert Conservation area (CDCA) Plan will also be amended. Three public hearings will be held in California from August 16-24. The Federal Register notice is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-29/pdf/2011-19175.pdf and more information athttp://www.energy.ca.gov/releases/2011_releases/2011-07-28_DRECP_Scoping.pdf.
Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan – Scoping Comments due October 12
Should the USFWS authorize take of Whooping Cranes, Piping Plovers, and Interior Least Terns by wind farms and transmission lines in a 200-mile wind energy development corridor in the Great Plains? If so, how should that take be mitigated? Now’s the time to let the USFWS know what your organization thinks. Scoping has opened on the Great Plains Habitat Conservation Plan, which is expected to also include Lesser Prairie-Chickens. So far, 11 public hearings have been scheduled, from August 9 to September 8. For more info., seehttp://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/wind.html
Midwest Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan – Dates of public comment period TBA
Scoping has not opened yet for the Midwest Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan, but here’s some information from the Conservation Fund website: “ In response to a growing demand for habitat conservation plans across the Midwest region, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is working with several Midwestern states and The Conservation Fund to explore the feasibility of developing a multi-species/multi-state habitat conservation plan (HCP) and incidental take permitting program that will provide conservation benefits to listed species and accommodate future construction, operation, and maintenance of wind energy sites and ancillary facilities across the eight-state region.” For more, see