The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and wind energy industry companies, along with the American Wind Energy Association, have signed a memorandum of understanding pledging to work together to develop a wind energy habitat conservation plan for the Service's Midwest Region. Such a plan would outline measures to conserve threatened and endangered species that may be affected by wind energy facilities in eight Midwestern states. Those states are: Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
"I believe this positive step will help the Service proceed on a scientifically sound basis to pursue the conservation of endangered species and facilitate the development of a renewable energy source at the same time," said Tom Melius, the Service's Midwest Regional Director.
A multi-species plan approved by the Service would include measures for long-term conservation of federally endangered Indiana bats and members of other protected species that may be incidentally harmed or killed by wind turbines or other activities associated with construction and operation of wind energy facilities. The industry's expectation is the plan will streamline the permitting process, allowing effective conservation of wildlife and ease the Service's administrative burden, while also allowing for more wind energy to be deployed nationally.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded states in the Service's Midwest Region an Endangered Species Act grant of $3,362,364 to develop a broadly constructed HCP designed to address the potential impacts of wind energy with the wind industry's commitment to provide 10% of matching funds.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Robert Carter, Jr. says this is a good opportunity for Indiana and other states to be part of the solution when it comes to making wind energy development work effectively and efficiently for all involved – natural resources, the economy and energy users.
The Conservation Fund, an environmental nonprofit, will lead the strategic conservation work accompanying the HCP.