Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wind project delay simplifies bird plan

Former Idaho State Sen. Stan Hawkins is a rancher, a farmer and foe to wind turbines in Idaho. Hawkins is a smart, irascible, iconoclastic conservative Republican from Ucon who often out-maneuvered his opponents by knowing their issue better than they did. He has returned to Boise to convince his colleagues that a two-year moratorium on building new wind-generation plants is needed. Long a voice for regionalism and local control, Hawkins has decided to push for a state-enforced moratorium because he thinks wind energy is too costly. He also believes that wind projects proposed across Idaho’s sagebrush sea will lead to a listing of sage grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act. And he thinks Gov. Butch Otter’s stated efforts to increase renewable energy development at the same time he’s working on a plan to protect sage grouse will conflict. “For the governor to say he’s trying to keep sage grouse off the endangered species list and supporting all these wind turbines in prime sage grouse habitat defies reason,” said Hawkins, who is running again for the Legislature. Otter will convene a task force Monday to formally begin writing an Idaho sage grouse management plan. He may have gotten some help from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Thursday when it deferred for two years a decision on the $500 million China Mountain Wind project on the Nevada border. This is a project that would have produced a lot of power and a lot of jobs. But it also was to be built in the middle of some of the best sage grouse habitat in both states...more

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