Over the objections of environmental groups, the federal government agreed Friday to issue eagle-take permits to wind companies for 30 years, instead of five. The permits allow companies to kill a certain number of eagles without penalty, while requiring additional mitigation and conservation measures.
Industry lobbied for the change, saying that the short permits left too much uncertainty when planning major projects.
The Department of Energy says that Wyoming is 14th in the nation based on the amount of wind it can turn into electricity. But the state did not add any new wind projects last year. The DOE’s Jose Zayas says there are several possible reasons.
“You do need to have access to large-scale transmission lines to move power out,” Zayas said. He added that Wyoming also does not consume as much electricity as other states.
Researchers at the University of Wyoming are trying to figure out how wind turbines affect antelope and elk. They’ve collared dozens of animals near the town of Medicine Bow and are tracking their movements over the course of several years.
Jeff Beck, who teaches ecosystem science and management, is overseeing the study. He says pronghorn tend to stay away from certain man-made structures … but wind farms are a relatively new phenomenon.