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Enviros Panic Over Judge’s Rejection of Wind Farm

Environmental activists and green energy special interest groups are circling the wagons. They’re panicking over an administrative law judge’s thumbs-down on a huge, but locally unpopular proposed wind farm on the Minnesota/Iowa border. That’s where American Experiment has erected numerous billboards in response to local opposition to wind farms in order to highlight the high cost and low benefits of Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate.

Evidently, what most concerns the renewable energy industry is that the court based its decision on environmental grounds–noise pollution.

A judge’s recommendation that a proposed Minnesota wind farm be nixed over turbine noise has drawn a flurry of opposition from the wind-power industry, which fears a chilling effect on development.

In a rare move, Administrative Law Judge LauraSue Schlatter last month recommended that the Freeborn Wind farm be denied an operating permit, saying the southern Minnesota project failed to show it can meet state noise standards.

The ruling may set a precedent that could shake up the entire industry, according to the Star Tribune.

Freeborn Wind’s developer, Invenergy, has objected, saying Schlatter’s interpretation of state noise rules would be “impossible” to meet. Last week, two wind-industry trade groups and three of Invenergy’s competitors also filed objections to Schlatter’s recommendation, as did four clean-energy and environmental groups.

The judge’s “interpretation of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) noise standards would have a detrimental impact on other current and future wind-energy projects throughout the state,” the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy wrote in its objection.

In fact, opposition to the $300 million project already resulted in dozens of the more than 120 proposed wind turbines being moved across the border to more fertile ground in Iowa. The court’s recommendation has gotten national attention.

“If the (PUC) adopted a ‘total noise’ standard, such an interpretation would effectively ban future wind development in Minnesota, and potentially provide anti-wind activists a tool to attempt to adversely affect the operation of existing projects,” the American Wind Energy Association wrote.

But don’t put away your ear plugs just yet. The project’s fate ultimately rests with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, a regulatory body that strongly supports wind special interest groups.

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