Greater Sage Grouse Endangered Species Listing Could Slow Western US Wind Growth


photo: Bryant Olsen via flickr.

Objections on spiritual grounds by Massachusetts Native American groups may be the latest hold-up for the embattled Cape Wind project, but as AlertNet reports, it may be the greater sage grouse and it's potential listing under the Endangered Species Act that could calm wind power development in several western states. The greater sage grouse's place as an official endangered species will be decided by February 26th:The issue for wind power development, and other energy development as well, including fossil fuel exploration, is that in Wyoming key sage grouse habitat is about 20% of the state according to guidelines just established by the Bureau of Land Management. In other states, such as Nevada, much of the state is sage grouse habitat.

BLM spokesperson Celia Boddington was quoted as saying,

We are concerned about ensuring that there are adequate protections for the sage grouse. It's an issue that we have been looking at since this administration came to office. BLM Wyoming has issued guidance for the sage grouse and we anticipate national guidance to be forthcoming shortly.

It is not expected that listing the sage grouse will stop wind power development throughout the region, but will provide another regulatory hurdle.

Let's Not Commit the Same Errors of the Past
Here's the interesting part though and I'm keen to know how TreeHugger readers feel: The original piece points out that this is the sort of thing the Bush administration likely would have ignored when it came to fossil fuel development, but will or should the Obama administration do the same when it comes to wind power?

As I said regarding Cape Wind and socio-cultural impacts, I don't think this sort of thing should be ignored. Just because the project has green benefits--and again, deploying much more renewable energy as quickly as possible is an imperative--doesn't mean we can ignore objections out of hand.

So how do TreeHugger readers feel? Does quick renewable energy development require some compromises with the natural world, if that's what's required?

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Tags: Endangered Species | Renewable Energy | United States | Wind Power