A finding that the bird is threatened also would be welcome news given how much money the state has spent on habitat enhancement. Since 1996, $26 million has gone toward conserving more than half a million acres where the lesser prairie chicken — there are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 in the state — is found. No one can say the state hasn't done its part to protect this species.
Last year, Oklahoma generated 7 percent of its electricity from wind. Additional wind development during 2012 is expected to bring the state, by year's end, close to its 2015 goal of 15 percent renewable energy. Experts say wind resources are available to push that number to 20 percent in the not-too-distant future.
One of the new wind projects in Oklahoma this year is a development north of Enid that intends to sell most of its electricity to Alabama, where the wind doesn't blow nearly as much as it does here — and where prairie chickens aren't “threatened” or “endangered.”
With any luck for the wind industry, federal regulatory snags relating to the lesser prairie chicken will be eased in time. Some green groups are sure to squawk, but what else is new? Every conflict has its share of casualties.