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FCC issues Memorandum Opinion and Order on tower petition

A moratorium on the construction of new communications towers in the Gulf Coast region is not justified nor must owners of about 5900 existing towers submit supplemental or new environmental assessments, according to a new FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order.

The order issued April 11 denies in part and dismisses in part a petition filed in August 2002 by the Forest Conservation Council, the American Bird Conservancy and Friends of the Earth, which alleged that the construction of communication towers in the Gulf Coast region violates various environmental statutes.

The groups claimed in their petition that the FCC’s tower construction policies in the Gulf Coast region violated several federal environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The FCC found that the petitioners had failed to justify their request for a moratorium under the applicable legal standard and that such a moratorium would harm the public interest.

Regarding the request for new or supplemental environmental assessments for the existing 5900 towers, the FCC found that the petitioners failed to make any specific allegations relating to individual towers as required under the FCC’s rules. The FCC denied the petitioners’ remaining claims as unsupported by the record before it but noted that many of the same issues are being considered in a separate FCC rulemaking proceeding.

The FCC plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding in the near future examining the effects of communications towers on migratory birds.

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