The legal battle over two large and controversial wind energy projects on the South Texas coast escalated Tuesday when the Coastal Habitat Alliance asked a federal judge in Austin to halt construction.
Citing the threat of irreparable environmental harm, lawyers for the alliance, a loose coalition of opponents to the massive projects, asked U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel to issue a preliminary injunction against the developers.
“The wind farms threaten a particularly precious, vulnerable area surrounding the Laguna Madre,” reads the motion. “If (construction) is allowed to continue, this will cause one of the most serious environmental disasters ever to occur on the Texas Coast.”
The group’s 10 members include the King Ranch, the American Bird Conservancy, the Lower Laguna Madre Foundation and the Coastal Bend Audubon Society.
Its lawyer, Jim Blackburn, said another motion seeking swifter action likely will follow.
“Essentially, we are filing this to get it on the record, and I expect we’ll come back and file for a temporary restraining order later this week, asking for an immediate hearing to stop everything,” he said.
The adjacent wind energy projects, which will cover tens of thousands of acres of open prairie on the 400,000-acre Kenedy Ranch, belong to Babcock & Brown, an Australian company, and PPM Energy, a division of Spanish energy giant Iberdrola.
Construction crews are building access roads and pad sites for turbines.
If fully developed, the two projects will generate enough electricity to power 180,000 Texas homes.
Members of the alliance, however, argue that hundreds of 400-foot tall propeller-driven turbines will endanger migrating birds and spoil an untouched section of the Texas coast.
By John MacCormack
San Antonio Express-News
18 March 2008
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