ABC Comment on FWS' Final Eagle Rule Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

Contact: Michael Hutchins, Director of ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program, 202-888-7485


Eagles at risk: “We still have significant concerns over the revised version [of FWS's Eagle Rule]. These need to be addressed if eagle populations are to be sustained.” Photo by Manamana/Shutterstock

(Washington, D.C., Nov. 11, 2016) The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) today issued a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) on its forthcoming Revised Eagle Rule, with the final rule itself expected in December. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) will be carefully reviewing the PEIS and the final rule. ABC remains deeply concerned about the rule's potential negative impacts on our nation's Bald and Golden Eagle populations.

“We are pleased that FWS is going through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, something that, in violation of U.S. law, was not done adequately in the first iteration of this rule,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, Director of ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “We still have significant concerns over the revised version. These need to be addressed if eagle populations are to be sustained.”

As Greenwire noted, FWS's PEIS analysis "clears the way to allow energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to kill, harm or disturb protected bald and golden eagles." ABC identified serious problems with the initial version of the Eagle Rule, which allowed FWS to issue 30-year eagle “take” permits to wind energy developers. In 2015, ABC won a court battle to require FWS to follow the process laid out by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and consultation with Native American tribes, for whom eagles are sacred. As a result of the lawsuit, a federal judge overturned the 30-year rule, agreeing with ABC that it violated NEPA, one of our most important environmental laws.

After the court ruling, FWS set out to revise its eagle-management plan. In June 2016, ABC submitted detailed comments on the proposed revisions. At that time, we expressed concerns about several critical issues concerning FWS, including:

ABC will be reading and carefully analyzing the final rule and hopes to see that these key concerns have been addressed. If not, we will take appropriate steps to protect America's eagles.


American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.



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