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Against the Wind: Conflict Over Wind Energy Siting

June 2011

Citation: 41 ELR 10549

Issue: 6

Author: Alexa Burt Engelman

With soaring gas prices, international commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and domestic pressure to reduce dependence on foreign oil, there is significant momentum for the development of alternative energy within the United States. As a mature existing technology, wind energy is the fastest growing source of domestic alternative energy. However, the local siting of wind turbines has been rife with conflict. This is profoundly evident in Hammond, a small town in upstate New York, where clashes between pro- and anti-wind factions have resulted in several lawsuits and created profound divisions between neighbors that will last generations. This conflict transcends simple “not in my backyard” sentiments and drives deep into the trade offs inherent in environmental policies and the tension over local land use control. Although traditional common law and statutory legal venues fall short of resolving these trade offs, states can offer municipalities oversight and institutional resources for landscape-scale, comprehensive planning to ensure the effective and equitable siting of wind turbines in their communities.

 Alexa Burt Engelman recently completed a J.D./M.P.P. at the UCLA School of Law and the UCLA School of Public Affairs.



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