FCC Revisits Birds and Towers Matter

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Washington - Apr 29, 2009 - On April 14, 2009, the American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the National Audubon Society filed a petition for expedited rulemaking and other relief. The petitioners request that the Commission adopt new rules on an expedited basis, which they assert are necessary to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and their implementing regulations, and to carry out the mandate of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in American Bird Conservancy, Inc. v. FCC (516 F.3d 1027, D.C. Cir. 2008). Specifically, the petitioners request that the FCC undertake several actions:

  • Amend the Commission's regulations that implement NEPA, "consistent with Council on Environmental Quality regulations and guidance," to "cure deficiencies" and to ensure that only Commission actions that have no significant environmental effects individually or cumulatively are categorically excluded;
  • Prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement addressing the environmental consequences of its Antenna Structure Registration ("ASR") program on migratory birds, their habitats, and the environment;
  • Promulgate rules to clarify the roles, responsibilities and obligations of the Commission, applicants, and non-federal representatives in complying with the ESA;
  • Consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the ASR program regarding all effects of towers and antenna structures on endangered and threatened species; and
  • Complete the proposed rulemaking in the Migratory Birds Proceeding to adopt measures to reduce migratory bird deaths in compliance with the MBTA.

    The debate over towers and migratory birds has been argued for most of this decade. Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation has been put forth as evidence. The topic also carries some emotional elements that make it difficult to discuss the issue without a negative opinion appearing to be summarily wrong.

    Comment Date:  May 29, 2009
    Reply Comment Date:  June 15, 2009

    DA 09-904; WT Docket No. 08-61; WT Docket No. 03-187

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