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Durbin and Other Midwestern Senator Object to Shut Down of Wind Farms

Location: Washington, DC


U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and a bipartisan group of other senators today sent letters to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expressing concern with a government order to halt the installation of windmill facilities across the country. In addition to Durbin, the letters were signed by five other senators including Russ Feingold (D-WI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Barack Obama (D-IL).

"Windmills have become an important source of clean alternative energy throughout the country. This decision by the Department of Defense and the FAA to halt windmill construction is premature and may have serious negative economic effects," said Durbin. "We have asked for a swift and thorough assessment of any negative impact that wind facilities may have on radar installations. If there are real problems we should find ways to mitigate, reduce or eliminate them rather than stand in the way of wind energy expansion."

A recent measure passed by Congress called on the DOD to submit a report to Congress on the effects of wind farms on military readiness, specifically investigating whether windmill facilities interfere with military radar. While the report is being completed, the DOD and FAA have been given the authority to halt the construction of wind farms that lie within the line of site of the National Air Defense and Homeland Security Radars. The policy has so far affected the development of wind farms and facilities in Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, and a total of 12 projects have received letters from the FAA indicating that the projects must be immediately stopped.

"This policy has far reaching consequences. It has already affected Illinois, halting the installation of a significant wind facility in Bloomington and two other sites - in LaSalle County and Lee/Bureau Counties," said Durbin. "According to the report, an overwhelming percentage of land in this country is classified as within the 'radar line of sight' and possibly obstructive. This means that wind farms across the country, including more than 20 of the wind facilities currently operating or in development in Illinois could be in danger of being shut down."

In the letter, the senators stressed the harmful impact of the temporary halt on wind facility construction, noting that "[p]rohibiting, even temporarily, the development of wind energy facilities within those areas would be a considerable setback for efforts to increase our country's energy independence."

"Wind installations around the country have been operating for decades without any reports of interference with military radar, so it is unusual that the installation of new wind farms would suddenly be halted," said Durbin. "If the study concludes that there is in fact a problem with the radar, we should be ready with workable solutions on how to eliminate these problems without eliminating our use of invaluable wind energy."

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