FCC Must Study Bird-Tower Collisions
February 21, 2008 at 6:06 AM (PT)
Birds and towers are a deadly mix -- a fact that preservationists and policy makers agree to. But the role of the regulators in keeping the two apart has been up in the air. On TUESDAY, a federal court told regulators they need to do more.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Circuit on TUESDAY sided with conservation groups that claimed the FCC violated government rules by approving communications towers that threaten migratory birds. The court is requiring the agency to conduct at least the minimal analysis on the environmental effect of cell, radio, television and other towers built in the GULF COAST REGION, as the groups have requested.
"There is no real dispute that towers 'may' have significant environmental impact" to meet a certain threshold, according to the ruling.
An FCC spokesman declined to comment.
"This is a significant ruling ... because the D.C. Circuit is directing the FCC for the first time to carefully assess the impact of communication towers on birds," said EARTHJUSTICE attorney STEPHEN ROADY.
The groups, which have fought the FCC for 10 years over this issue, filed at least two lawsuits in court against the FCC. They again challenged the FCC in court in MAY 2006 after the agency dismissed the groups' petition, which claimed the agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act and refused to follow U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines.