The Endangered Species Act may present the newest, largest road block to the development of wind energy across Colorado’s Estern Plains and neighboring states, the according to an Associated Press story in The Denver Post.
Should the lesser prairie chicken become listed as threatened or endangered—and it’s close now—there would be significant restrictions on companies hoping to plant towering turbines across a five-state region believed to have some of the nation’s best wind energy potential.
The shortflight bird, which weighs about 400 grams, has an evolutionary aversion to tall structures around its breeding and nesting grounds because its predators include raptors who perch in high places awaiting their opportunity.
For about five years the wind industry generally has not heeded a 2004 recommendation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking companies not to put turbines within 5 miles of a lek, the lesser prairie chickens’ breeding grounds.
Another ironic twist contributing to the prairie chicken’s looming demise is the budget-busting 2008 Farm Bill, passed by “centrist” Democrats and agriculture-state Republicans who overrode the veto of former President Bush. Despite the bill’s generous spending, some 1.3 million acres of marginal lands are slated to be released from the Conservation Reserve Program, further reducing the birds’ habitat.
Enjoy watching the enviro-extremists twist out of this one when they decide which of their sacred cows isn’t so sacred and throw one under the bus.