FCC sued over Big Isle
and Kauai towers

The Federal Communications Commission isn't doing enough to keep imperiled Hawaii birds from fatal collisions with communication towers on Kauai and the Big Island, conservation groups allege in a federal lawsuit.

The Newell's shearwater, or 'a'o, and Hawaiian petrel, or 'ua'u, are protected by the Endangered Species Act and have been harmed by the design of seven Hawaii towers, alleges the suit, which was filed yesterday.

The FCC was warned to consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about ways to make modifications that would reduce the number of birds that collide with them, according to plaintiffs the Conservation Council for Hawaii, American Bird Conservancy and Forest Conservation Council.

Potential modifications include lighting design, elimination of guy wires and reducing tower height, the groups said.

"Building towers hundreds of feet high, near populations of endangered birds, without any environmental review, when scientists know that millions of birds collide with towers like this across the country, is unacceptable," said Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii. "We expect the Federal Communications Commission to comply with the law, like every other federal agency."

According to the plaintiffs, the FCC delegates responsibility for complying with environmental laws to companies that own the towers, "and makes no effort to verify the companies' claims that their towers present no environmental concerns, or to ensure that the companies perform any review at all."

"The plaintiff groups are asking the court to declare this practice illegal."

FCC officials could not be reached for comment.

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