Library filed under Impact on Birds from Texas
This useful paper examines the impact of wind turbine development on species habitat use. In particular, this paper focuses on bird species residing in American grasslands. The abstract of the paper is provided below. The full paper can be downloaded from the links on this page.
A group that wants to slow the rush of wind turbines to the Texas Coast is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to require environmental studies for Texas wind farms. The Coastal Habitat Alliance has filed a petition with the FAA asking for the change in policy. This is the latest in a series of attempts the group has made to fight the emergence of wind farms on the coast, which is a major migratory bird route. The alliance worries about the impact thousands of wind turbines could have on the bird population.
About 140 people got another look at the coming world of wind power Friday. Birds and bats were major topics, but the basic message was that there needs to be more study of the impact of wind farms and turbines. "We're kind of finding our way along with the industry," Kathy Boydston, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told the gathering at the Ambassador Hotel in Amarillo. Experts are trying to find ways to deter birds and bats from hitting turbines, but the lack of information on how many fall victim and how it happens is lacking.
One native bird in the area may soon be added to the endangered species list. And it could have a big impact on future wind farm development in the Panhandle. There are only a few lesser prairie chickens left in Texas. And because of huge wind farms proposed in the Panhandle, their population is in limbo. Today at the Panhandle Wind and Wildlife Conference here in Amarillo, wildlife experts discussed the impact wind turbines and wind farms have on animals, both in the air and on the ground.
A regional conservation group is pointing out where birds and wind farms might not mix. A Playa Lakes Joint Venture mapping project shows the few remaining acres of habitat for the lesser prairie chicken and where playa lakes can draw large numbers of migrating birds. "There has been a lot of interest from the wind industry, local and state conservation groups and state agencies," said Megan McLachlan, a geographic-information system analyst for the group. "We've gotten a lot of phone calls the last couple of months asking us to share the data. There's a lot of people working on the issue."
A federal court judge said Tuesday he needs time to sort through a complicated legal challenge brought by the King Ranch and several environmental groups that want to stop a massive wind farm near the South Texas Gulf Coast. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will have to decide if a mid-1990s federal Coastal Zone Management Act requires the state to conduct public hearings before a wind farm can be approved - if it affects private property and if the environmental groups have a right to sue. ...Lawyers for the wind farm developers said wind farms are not like electric utilities, which are subject to regulation.
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.
A Houston-based environmental group with local ties has released an environmental impact study that it says might stop the construction of two proposed Kenedy County wind farms. ...EDM assessed the proposed sites and found "the operation of the projects could result in the largest and most significant avian mortality event in the history of wind energy. The associated negative repercussions to the expanding wind industry both in the U.S. and internationally could be significant, as well," according to its report. The study will be used in ongoing litigation seeking to prevent the construction of the wind farms, says alliance spokeswoman Elyse Yates. Officials for both companies say they have conducted studies for years and findings show there would be minimal impact to the environment and birds.
Two wind power projects under construction in Kenedy County, Texas will pose a threat to migratory and resident birds and bats, according to a scientific study released today by the Coastal Habitat Alliance. The two projects, both being built on private ranch land, will be the first wind farms in coastal south Texas. ...Conducted by EDM International, Inc. using methodologies developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, today's report shows that in terms of potential harm to migratory birds the wind farm sites are almost as sensitive as a national wildlife refuge established for bird protection. "The proposed Kenedy County Wind Projects, totaling 1,200 MW, are unprecedented along the Gulf Coast and the operation of these proposed projects could result in the largest and most significant avian mortality event in the history of wind energy," says the EDM report.
Wind turbines on the southern Texas Gulf Coast, and in Kenedy County in particular, could have a "catastrophic" impact on migrating and local birds, according to a new environmental review commissioned by the Coastal Habitat Alliance. Wind farm developers, however, maintain that the proposed wind projects on Kenedy Ranch will have minimal effects on birds. ..."In terms of potential harm to migratory and local birds and bats, the location of the proposed wind projects in South Texas is among the worst that can be found on any piece of private land in Texas and rivals the damage that could occur if a similar project were built on a wildlife refuge," the report states.
Executive summary of the Coastal Habitat Alliance's independent review on the potential environmental impact of the proposed Kenedy County wind projects. Click here to access the full document.
The dispute over construction of two wind farms adjacent to the famed King Ranch in south Texas entered the courts Tuesday when an alliance of conservation and related groups filed lawsuits to stop the projects. The Coastal Habitat Alliance, which includes King Ranch, filed separate lawsuits in state and federal court in Austin. The federal lawsuit claims the state has not done a thorough analysis of the impact the farms and their massive turbines will have on wetlands, habitat, endangered species and migratory birds. It seeks a declaratory judgment and, if needed, an injunction against the developers, whose combined initial investments are expected to top $1 billion. The state lawsuit claims the Texas Public Utility Commission illegally denied the alliance a chance to intervene in the PUC's hearings on transmission lines for the wind farms. ...But the alliance claims that because Texas receives federal funds to help protect the coastal region through the Coastal Zone Management Act, a thorough environmental review of the wind projects is required.
Two companies developing more than 600 megawatts of wind generation along the Texas coastline aren't daunted by threats of hurricane damage or opposition from environmentalists and powerful ranching interests, executives said Thursday. ...The Texas Public Utility Commission on Wednesday blocked a coalition of environmental groups, backed by the powerful King Ranch interests of South Texas, from intervening in a case related to the siting of a transmission line to move power from the two coastal wind farms to the Texas grid.
Alliance members said they had hoped to obtain intervenor status so they could request an environmental study be conducted, assessing the wind farms’ possible impact on migrating birds and habitat. The alliance earlier this week announced the preliminary results of an assessment it commissioned, which suggested the wind farms could prove harmful to migrating birds. ...“By refusing the participation of experts who have come to the table to offer their experience and assistance, the PUC is denying itself and our state the benefit of their knowledge and insight,” said Jim Blackburn, an Austin attorney and the alliance’s founder, in a statement.
A divided Public Utility Commission shut the door Wednesday on conservationists' efforts to air concerns about the effect of planned Gulf Coast wind farms on migratory birds. ...Chairman Paul Hudson dissented, saying it would be in the public's interest for the commission to hear about the environmental impact and that denying the intervention would prevent the PUC from ever looking at the alliance's argument.
For all the benefits that wind power could bring, it's important to understand the very real impact these industrial wind power projects would have on this sensitive area. Roads and turbine construction would fragment more than 60,000 acres of undeveloped habitat. Each windmill covers more than an acre of airspace as its 100-foot blades spin, and each turbine requires 1,000 tons of concrete to anchor it to the ground. This project would include more than 21 miles of new electrical towers to support the high-voltage transmission line. More roads, more cranes, more impact.
Two proposed wind farms on Kenedy Ranch could pose "significant" risk to migrating birds, according to a preliminary environmental study commissioned by an environmental group. ...After visiting the wind-farm sites, the environmental consultants concluded that the wind projects would be too close to active bird migration pathways and that bird fatalities could result. The consultants are working on a more extensive study, which likely will be completed in about six weeks, said Elyse Yates, a spokeswoman for Coastal Habitat Alliance, which paid the consultants to conduct the assessment.
The Texas General Land Office's ambitions for wind power could land an offshore site near South Padre Island.
"There has been exactly zero reports that have been released to the public in Texas about environmental concerns in Texas from wind projects," said Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy at the American Bird Conservancy. "The coastal plain of Texas is one of the most important migratory corridors for birds and we would like to see some kind of evaluation before projects are going on down there."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has written U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials to say that changing wind farm policies based on the chance that migrating whooping cranes might be hurt would send a bad message.