Interior Department Proposes Guidelines for Protecting Wildlife from Wind Energy Development

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Fossil fuels are under fire from opponents of hydraulic fracturing in the gas drilling process or, in coal’s case, everything from mountaintop mining to mercury emissions. And now with the crisis in Japan, nuclear power is facing new challenges. Of course that leaves renewables such as solar, hydro and wind. Wind power itself has been one of the bright spots in the electricity sector. But recently, many projects have faced significant challenges over financing, viewshed issues and wildlife. Yet despite these woes and a new documentary film making a “Gasland“ - like run through film festivals, wind continues to grow.

In early April, a Midwestern public utility terminated agreements with a developer for a 150-MW wind energy project in North Dakota over concerns about mitigating impacts on birds, much to the delight of bird groups that have long been aggressive opponents of wind. The bottom line: everyone wants to make wind energy benefit people and communities without endangering wildlife, but finding that balancing point has proven increasingly sticky.

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