Just when the green energy movement thinks they have it all worked out, along comes a snail-darteresque moment that throws a monkey wrench in green plans. These are the big fanboys in the panhandle, which I snapped a photo of near the Oklahoma- Texas border when I was doing USHCN site surveys in December. – Anthony
(From Bloomberg) — Iberdrola SA and E.ON AG’s turbine dreams for the windswept Texas Panhandle may be stymied by the mating rituals of the Lesser Prairie Chicken, a bird whose future could slow the pace of U.S. renewable energy growth.
Developers are scouring the sagebrush and grasslands of potential turbine sites for the ground-dwelling chickens, E.ON chief development officer Patrick Woodson said. Once plentiful in the southern high plains, the bird now has a high priority for listing under the Endangered Species Act, a move that will affect where as much as $11 billion in turbines can be built.
Federal protection for the chickens will hamper Texas’s plan to add 5,500 megawatts of wind power in the region by 2013, a 60 percent increase for the state. President Barack Obama wants to double all U.S. energy from renewable sources such as the wind and sun in three years to reduce dependence on imported oil and the greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming.
“The windiest parts of some of these states seem to be the areas that still have bigger concentrations of prairie chickens,” Woodson said in an Aug. 13 interview. “We need to plan for a worst-case scenario, which would be a listing.”
There may be as few as 10,000 Lesser Prairie Chickens left in the U.S. from an estimated 3 million in the 18th century. Many are still found in the panhandle, Texas’s northern tip that also boasts the best prospects for wind power, said Heather Whitlaw, a biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Electric-generating wind turbines inhibit the bird’s spring mating rituals, Whitlaw said on Aug. 11. Males jump, fight and show off bright yellow eye combs and reddish esophageal air sacks as they court females in an elaborate dance. The chickens have learned to avoid such mating displays around structures like turbine towers or utility poles where predators may perch.
Ouch, listing under the ESA? That’s gonna hurt. Read the complete article here
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., the hunt is on for Lesser Prarie Chicken habitat.
The Texas Panhandle area supports a large proportion of the remaining populations of Lesser Prairie-Chickens, so we all have an important opportunity to ensure conservation of the grasslands that support this icon of the Southern High Plains. It is important that we all work together to conserve and manage this unique grassland species. One of the challenges facing biologists and managers is the need to collect accurate census data in order to address the questions and concerns of whether Lesser Prairie-Chickens should be listed as a threatened species across their range. With your help and reports of observations, we will be able to determine how many prairie-chickens we have in Texas.
If you see this bird please contact any of the following:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
Box 42125, TTU
Lubbock, TX 79409-2125
Please provide details of the date, location and number of individuals seen. If possible include GPS coordinates. Did you happen to get a photograph or digital image? Your information is valuable and will help ensure the continued survival of this unique
I’m sure WUWT readers would be glad to help.
h/t to Jeez