Towerkill News
  May, 2012 - Federal Aviation Administration


Wildlife biologists have conducted extensive research to better understand how migratory birds are negatively affected by obstruction lights, which are used at night to warn pilots that they are approaching an obstruction hazard. The research concluded that migratory birds appear to be attracted to the steady-burning (i.e., nonflashing) obstruction lights on communication towers and, as a result, thousands of birds are killed annually through collisions with these obstructions. Wildlife organizations, the telecommunication industry, and the Federal Communication Commission collectively approached the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and requested that the FAA consider redefining their standards for obstruction lighting to either omit or flash the normally steady-burning red lights to reduce their impact on the mortality rates of migratory birds. In the research reported here, the FAA Airport Technology Research and Development Team evaluated the proposal to omit or flash the normally steady-burning red lights. In addition, researchers evaluated the potential benefit of using light-emitting diode obstruction lights instead of conventional incandescent obstruction lights as a way to mitigate their impact on birds, due to their unique color and flash pattern. A series of flight evaluations was conducted to compare the obstruction lighting on several communication towers in the northern Michigan area. A tower that was equipped with a nonstandard lighting configuration in which the steady-burning red lights were programmed to flash in unison with the red flashing lights was also included in the flight evaluation.

For more information see:
  November 12, 2010 - Federal Communications Commission

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announces public meetings and invites comment on the environmental effects of its antenna structure registration program

To comply with its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Communications Commission is conducting a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) of its Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) program. The purpose of the PEA is to evaluate the potential environmental effects of the Commission's ASR program. In the course of the PEA, the Commission will consider alternatives to address potential environmental effects, and will determine whether a more extensive analysis, in the form of a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, may be required under NEPA.

For more information on the proceeding, dates and locations for public meetings, and how to submit comments see:
  July 6, 2010 - Federal Communications Commission

Rick Kaplan To Succeed Bruce Gottlieb As Chief Counsel To Fcc Chairman Julius Genachowski

Link to Announcement:

  April 14, 2009 - American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society

Petition submitted to the FCC for expedited rulemaking

The American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and National Audubon Society submitted a Petition to the FCC requesting that new rules be adopted on an expedited basis to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and their implementing regulations, and to carry out the mandate of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in American Bird Conservancy, Inc. vs. FCC, 516 F.3d 1027 (D.C. Circuit 2008).

Link to Petition:

The FCC opened up a comment period on this Petition and the responses are available on the FCC webpage , entering 03-187 in box #1, and then clicking the Retrieve Document List button.
  March 19, 2009 - Ecological Society of America

Recently published scientific study documents the relative risk to birds of different aviation obstruction lighting schemes on tall communications towers.

Gehring, J. Kerlinger, P. and A.M. Manville II. 2009. Communication towers, lights, and birds: successful methods of reducing the frequency of avian collisions. Ecological Applications, 19(2):505-514.

"To determine the relative collision risks that different nighttime Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) communication tower obstruction lighting systems pose to night-migrating birds, we compared fatalities at towers with different systems: white strobe lights only; red strobe-like lights only; red, flashing, incandescent lights only; and red, strobe-like lights combined with non-flashing, steady burning, red lights.. results suggest that avian fatalities can be reduced, perhaps by 50-71%, at guyed communication towers by removing non-flashing/steady-burning red lights. Our lighting change proposal can be accomplished at minimal cost on existing towers, and such changes on new or existing towers greatly reduce the cost of tower operation. Removing non-flashing lights from towers is one of the most effective and economically feasible means of achieving a significant reduction in avian fatalities at existing communication towers."
  March 4, 2009 - Portfolio.Com

President Obama appointed Julius Genachowski to chair the FCC on March 3rd, 2009.

Here's some perspective of the issues that Genachowski will be dealing with including the court order to protect migratory birds.

Full Article:
  January 22, 2009 - Federal Communications Commission

Michael J. Copps designated as Acting Chairman of the FCC

(See Chairman Copps' statement regarding bird mortality at communications towers February 20, 2008).

Full Article:
  November 13, 2008 - American Bird Conservancy Release

FCC continues to drag feet on towers deadly to endangered Hawaiian birds

The American Bird Conservancy reports on legal efforts to mitigate bird collisions with communications towers..

Full Article:
  July 6, 2008 - ars technica

FCC ponders solution to bird-slaying communications towers

A good overview of the situation.

Full Article:
  June 12, 2008 - RCR Wireless News

Conservationists call for freeze on tower registrations

Conservationists called for a freeze on all tower registrations and re-registrations until the Federal Communications Commission complies with environmental statutes at issue in a court ruling earlier this year.

Full Article:
  May 28, 2008 - Concerned Conservationists

NGO's submit tower regulation comments

"American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and National Audubon Society hereby submit the following comments in response to the Commission's Public Notice, DA 08-1078 (released May 6, 2008) regarding "Infrastructure Coalition" Petition.....

Full Text:
  May 6, 2008

FCC seeks comments on the Infrastructure Coalition's Petition for Expedited Rulemaking

The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced that it seeks comment on the Infrastructure Coalition's Petition for Expedited Rulemaking. Submitted comments can be read by going to by going to and entering 08-61 in box #1.
  May 2, 2008

Infrastructure Coalition" files Petition for Expedited Rulemaking in response to Court of Appeals ruling

CTIA-The Wireless Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Association of Tower Erectors, and PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association (collectively, the “Infrastructure Coalition”) filed their Petition for Expedited Rulemaking in response to the decision of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in American Bird Conservancy, Inc. v. FCC, 516 F.3d 1027 (2008) (American Bird Conservancy). In this petition, the Infrastructure Coalition asks the FCC to amend Parts 1 and 17 of the it rules to establish a public notice process for antenna structure registration applications in response to the court’s directive. A public notice process would give the public (e.g., environmental organizations) a formal process for petitioning against the construction of specific antennae (towers) on the basis of their negative impact to birds.
  May 1, 2008

FCC opens Docket 08-61 to address Court of Appeals decision

The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced that it has opened Docket 08-61 to address the decision of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in American Bird Conservancy, Inc. v. FCC, 516 F.3d 1027 (2008), in which the Court affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part the Commission's 2006 Memorandum Opinion and Order relating to a petition filed by the American Bird Conservancy, the Forest Conservation Council, and the Friends of the Earth. Comments on Docket 08-61 can be read by going to by going to and entering 08-61 in box #1.
  February 20, 2008

Statement of FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps in response to the D.C. Circuit's decision vacating the FCC's denial and dismissal of the GULF COAST MIGRATORY BIRDS PETITION

"For years, I have been disappointed with the FCC's failure to get serious about its environmental responsibilities. Now the D.C. Circuit has affirmed something this agency should have acknowledged a long time ago: that the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act require the FCC to take a hard look at the effects of communications towers on migratory birds.

Yesterday's decision should be a wake-up call to this agency. It is time to stop acting as if a problem will go away if we just keep kicking it down the road. As we move forward with the steps that the court has ordered us to take, I hope we will live up to the letter and the spirit of the environmental statutes Congress has given us. This means more than just checking the boxes required by the statutes - it means taking a thorough look at whether our rules and practices contribute to millions of needless bird deaths. I look forward to working with my colleagues to accomplish this important and time-sensitive work."
  February 19, 2008

Gulf Coast Migratory Birds Petition - Appeals Court decision

Court Decision available for download. (PDF Format - 58K)

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