‘Birds vs. Towers’ Leads to Public Hearings

FCC will hear from the public in D.C., California and Tampa
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There’s another step in the ongoing debate of birds vs. towers.

That’s the one in which environmental groups claim tower lights confuse migratory birds and cause them to fall and die, while broadcasters and cellular tower owners dispute those claims. The matter received particular public attention during Michael Powell’s tenure as chairman of the FCC and has been continuing since.

To comply with obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, the FCC is conducting what it’s calling a “programmatic environmental assessment” of its Antenna Structure Registration program to evaluate its potential environmental effects. That’s because a federal appeals court ruled in 2008 that broadcast and cellular towers may have a significant environmental effect on migratory birds.

The commission will consider alternatives to address potential environmental effects, and determine whether a more extensive analysis, like a programmatic environmental impact statement, may be required.

As part of the process, the commission plans to hold three public meetings: Dec. 6 at FCC headquarters; Dec. 13 in Chula Vista, Calif.; and Dec. 15 in Tampa, Fla.

The FCC also seeks public comment on the issue (to WT Dockets 08-61 and 03-187) by Jan. 14, 2011.

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