By MARCUS WOHLSEN
The Associated Press
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 12:12 AM
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Sierra Club sued the Department of Defense on Wednesday, saying its failure to complete a key study has stopped construction of more than a dozen wind farms in the Midwest.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the Pentagon missed a May deadline for a study on whether the wind farms interfere with military radar, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
The Federal Aviation Administration has halted projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Dakota, and South Dakota until the agency can determine their impact on the radar.
"The end result is the wind industry is being crippled," said Kristin Henry, attorney of the Sierra Club.
The departments of Defense and Homeland Security announced in March they would contest any proposed wind turbines that fell within the "radar field-of-view" of long-range air defense systems.
"Our goal is not to put up roadblocks to these wind farms but to preserve the safety of our airspace," spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.
Delayed construction on wind farms could make developers ineligible for federal tax credits available until the end of 2007, Henry said.
Concern over the study has created an "uncertain situation" for developers considering new wind farm projects, said Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association.
Wind became the second-greatest source of new power generated in the United States last year after natural gas, according to the group.