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As the number of proposed wind energy projects in the Upper Great Plains increases, Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the environmental, social and economic impacts of wind energy development in the region, which includes all or parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota and the service's grassland and wetland easements in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.
The programmatic Wind EIS and program include the following goals:

- defining areas with a high potential for wind energy development in the Upper Great Plains region,

- defining the natural and human environment that may be affected by potential wind-energy development,

- understanding the individual and cumulative impacts to wildlife habitat and wildlife as well as highlight those areas that should be avoided,

- developing a streamlined approach for future environmental compliance,

- developing and present mitigation measures for use by interconnection applicants,

- implementing an adaptive management approach that requires mitigation implementation, monitoring and reporting, and

- providing an easy-to-use guide for applicants, whether they are for interconnection or for the service's wetland or grassland easements.

The programmatic EIS also will identify typical environmental impacts of wind energy development, mitigation strategies, standard construction practices and best management practices, and establish a comprehensive environmental program for evaluating future projects.

"The Upper Great Plains are home to some of the best wind energy resources in the world," says Bob Harris, WAPA's Upper Great Plains regional manager. "This programmatic EIS will help streamline our process to address a growing number of applications to develop the wind resource and assist in meeting our nation's need for renewable energy."

Public scoping meetings to obtain comments on issues associated with wind energy development in the Upper Great Plains are scheduled for Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2.

WAPA and service representatives will be available to answer questions about the programmatic EIS.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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