Some of the best remaining habitat for Wyoming's greater sage grouse is being eyed by wind power developers, but expanding the renewable energy resource could drive the grouse to an Endangered Species Act listing. Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.
Development of wind energy and sage grouse protection are on a collision course in Wyoming, where state officials are worried that a future Endangered Species Act listing for the chicken-like bird could ruin the golden egg laid by the Obama administration's renewable energy mandates.
Should the Fish and Wildlife Service determine that the greater sage grouse is imperiled and warrants federal protection, Wyoming leaders say, the state will be forced to adopt broad conservation efforts that could not only end its wind power boom, but also sharply curtail oil and gas development and even ranching across the state.
Wind power companies are already developing projects inside "core sage grouse areas" that a Wyoming governor's task force last year marked as critical to the survival of the bird. One wind farm has been completed inside the core area, two others are under state review, and dozens more are in the development phase, officials say.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management's application pipeline for wind farms on federal lands is growing fuller by the week.…