Global environmental challenges
CARBON, Wyoming – They used to mine coal in the abandoned town of Carbon. Now this patch of southern Wyoming is a battleground in the debate over what many hope will be the clean energy source of the future: wind power.
At the heart of the dispute are plans to build a network of wind farms in the American West that conservationists fear could disrupt threatened habitat such as sage brush, a dwindling piece of the region’s fragile ecosystem.
This has made the greater sage grouse — which as its name suggests is totally dependent on sage brush — an unlikely poster child for some U.S. environmentalists, in much the same way that the rare spotted owl became a symbol in the 1980s of pitched battles with the logging industry.
Wyoming is home to 54 percent of the greater sage grouse population in North America. The bird’s status is being evaluated for inclusion on the U.S. government’s threatened or endangered species list, which would give it more protection.