Prairie-Chicken Listing Threatens Wind Farms


A proposal to list the lesser prairie chicken as endangered in parts of Texas and New Mexico is drawing concerns beyond agriculture. The listing could create problems to oil and gas development in the largest U.S. petroleum basin and be problematic for wind power. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the proposal last month for areas in Texas, New Mexico and Southwest Kansas.

Bloomberg Law reports the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a possible mile-wide zone around each wind turbine the agency would assume the bird could no longer live. The Texas Panhandle is one of the country’s most productive regions for wind energy. The wind power industry believes wind turbines don’t severely harm the lesser prairie-chicken. The bird previously was listed as threatened under the ESA. However, a federal judge tossed out the listing in 2015 after finding the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t account for the oil industry’s voluntary efforts to protect the bird’s habitat.