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Birds vs. Towers, Round 172

FCC seeks comment on environmental notice requirements for towers

The debate of whether towers kill migratory birds has taken another turn.

The FCC is asking for comments on draft rules and procedures designed to ensure that environmental effects of proposed towers — including their impact on migratory birds — are considered before a new tower is built.

A federal appeals court said the FCC had to offer the public “a meaningful opportunity” to ask for an environmental assessment study for proposed towers, after conservation groups opposed the commission’s tower siting approval process.

The new draft procedures parallel an understanding reached by communication providers, including NAB, The Wireless Association, tower companies and conservation groups in 2010.

Under the draft rules, the public would be able to comment on the environmental effects of a proposed tower. The FCC staff then would consider those comments to determine whether an environmental assessment is required for that structure. If an EA is needed, it would have to be done before antenna structure registration; now those are filed at the same time.

In the interim, an EA would need to be to be filed for each proposed tower more than 450 feet high to address its potential impact on migratory birds.

Comments to WT Dockets 08-61 and 03-187 are due 30 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.

Read the draft rules here (PDF).