In case you missed it, the Associated Press has an interesting story this week about a small bird that’s leading to big headaches for the wind industry. Known as the “lesser prairie chicken,” the bird is apparently very close to being listed as threatened or endangered by the federal government.
The result? According to Heather Whitlaw, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist: “Anybody who puts anything on our landscape would be evaluated in one form or another.”
The AP reports that federal recommendations from 2004 discouraging the construction of turbines within five miles of prairie chicken breeding grounds have gone largely unheeded by the industry. Instead a wind energy trade group has asked for the scientific basis of the five-mile limit, according to the AP.
The Texas Public Utility Commission last year authorized the construction of billions of dollars of new transmission lines to serve wind generators throughout Texas. Some of these lines will connect to the Panhandle, which the AP identifies as lesser prairie chicken territory. No word on how a federal designation for the tiny bird will impact the state’s expensive transmission line initiative.