Headline for Featured Item #1 HRI Research Scientist Says Environmental Effects of Proposed Wind Turbines Unknown - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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HRI Research Scientist Says Environmental Effects of Proposed Wind Turbines Unknown

August 01, 2012


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The full environmental impact of a proposed project to build 300 offshore wind turbines in the Gulf of Mexico near South Padre Island will not be evident until the project becomes a reality, according to Dr. Greg Stunz, a research scientist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

“We don't know what the impact will be because it has never been done at this scale,” said Stunz, Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Health at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI). Before the proposal is approved, it will have to go through a lengthy permitting process including environmental impact assessments.”

The proposal by Austin-based Baryonyx Corp. calls for wind turbines almost twice the size of any turbine currently in the United States that would generate enough electricity to meet the demand of millions of people. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the project includes “a nearly contiguous string of wind energy developments within a 35-mile wide corridor from San Patricio County southward to Cameron County.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating the proposal before granting construction permits. In addition, the HRI has been contacted about conducting independent environmental impact studies for several offshore energy production groups.

 “We don’t want to cause unintended environmental or economic impacts that would not have otherwise existed,” said Stunz.

Stunz pointed out that, while construction of the wind turbine will result in the production of clean energy, there are also potential negatives. The physical presence of the turbines could restrict both sport and commercial fishing interests along South Padre Island, may impair endangered species that rely on electromagnetic fields for navigation, and also affect the migration of birds which, each spring and fall, flock through the area in huge numbers.

Because of its unprecedented scale, there needs to be more scientific research,” said Stunz. “We certainly want to explore new and clean alternative energy sources, but we also want it to be environmentally friendly.”



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