Kansas and Nebraska
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms.
Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266.
But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms.
"Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
It will be November before a final decision is made, but at least two companies have indicated an interest in building a transmission line that would pass near Hays.
One of those companies - ITC Great Plains - officially is on record that it would like to build the line, which would run from Spearville to the Knoll substation just northwest of Hays and then to Axtell, Neb., just south of Kearney.
While it's significant that the line would come close to Hays, it's also the first line that a relatively new state agency - on its own accord - has proposed building if no private company steps forward.
CAMBRIA, Wis. -- With empty storefronts on the main drag and corn stubble stretching for miles in the surrounding hills, this fading farm town seems like a natural stop for the ethanol express.
Not to John Mueller, though. The 54-year-old stay-at-home dad has led a dogged battle to prevent a corn mill from building an ethanol plant up the hill from the village school. Concerned about air pollution, the water supply and the mill's environmental track record, Mr. Mueller and his group, Cambrians for Thoughtful Development, have blitzed the village's 800 residents with fliers, packed public meetings and set up a sophisticated Web site.
The mill has fought back with its own publicity campaign and local corn farmers have taken to the streets in tractors to show support. Now, as the mill races to build the $70 million plant, the matter is headed to the federal courthouse in Madison, 40 miles southwest.
Wind farms in Kansas, Nebraska and California will play a role in Colorado Springs Utilities’ compliance with a voter-approved mandate on renewable energy.
But homes and businesses in Colorado Springs won’t be getting electricity produced by harnessing wind in those places. Instead, renewable energy credits will be logged into Colorado Springs Utilities’ books.