PCIA wants FCC to dismiss environmental petition affecting 6,000 Gulf Coast wireless communications towers
PCIA, a membership organization based in Alexandria, Va., that describes itself as the “wireless infrastructure association,” has filed a motion for the FCC to dismiss a petition submitted by three environmental groups challenging registration of nearly 6,000 communications towers along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The petitioning groups, Forest Conservation Council, Friends of the Earth and American Bird Conservancy, want:
tower owners to prepare and file EAs (environmental assessments) for each registered antenna structure with the commission.
an order from the commission to require the owners of 96 additional structures file supplemental EAs.
the commission to prepare a regional environmental impact statement covering all past, present and foreseeable antenna structure registrations in the Gulf Coast region.
the commission to initiate formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act for all registration decisions for antenna structures in the Gulf Coast region.
the commission to refrain from registering new communications towers in the Gulf Coast region until it has complied with the above requests.
the commission to “implement public participation procedures” in NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) reviews by providing petitioners with notice of all ASRS (Antenna Structure Registration System) applications in the Gulf Coast region.
the commission to comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by incorporating the assessment of effects to migratory birds in all future ASRS environmental reviews.
The PCIA motion to dismiss details what it calls the petition’s “lack of legal merit,” including:
Failure to file timely under Section 1.1313 — PCIA asserted that FCC rules state that environmental objections must be brought prior to authorization. The association said that the towers named in the petition were authorized, registered and constructed, and operating long after the time of completion, so the time has passed for filing such an objection.
Failure to file timely under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) — PCIA said that NEPA apparently contemplated that its provision should be complied with before a project is authorized or constructed. The petition that PCIA wants the FCC to dismiss calls for post-construction EAs, which PCIA has argued would not be legal under Section 1.1313 (b) of the FCC rules.
In addition, PCIA noted that of the 1,000 or so tower owners with towers listed in the petition, none has been served by the petitioners or notified by the FCC as required. PCIA cited Section 1.939(c) of the FCC rules (procedures for proper service of a petition to deny): “(a) petitioner shall serve a copy of its petition to deny on the applicant and all other interested parties pursuant to Section 1.47.”
Section 1.47 (b) states that “[w]here any person is required to serve any document filed with the commission, service shall be made by that person or by his representatives on or before the day on which the document is filed.”
If the FCC were to grant its motion, PCIA said that it would save those tower owners the time and trouble of responding to and sorting through responses to a petition that PCIA said has little or no merit. The association said that the petition should be dismissed for failure to serve the tower owners, representatives or both.
“As the voice of the wireless infrastructure industry, PCIA is filing this motion to ensure our members are not subject to unnecessary regulatory actions. This petition is particularly troublesome as well as unsubstantiated,” said Jay Kitchen, PCIA’s president.
“PCIA is supportive of efforts to better understand the effects that communications towers potentially have on the migratory bird population, which is why in June we signed a letter supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s request for congressional funding to explore the effect of towers on migratory bird strikes,” he said.