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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects
Using an evaluation guide such as the one recommended in Chapter 5 to organize regulatory review processes can help to achieve comprehensive and consistent regulation coordinated across jurisdictional levels and across types of effects.
Regulatory agencies should adopt and routinely use an evaluation guide in their reviews of wind-energy projects. The guide should be available to developers and the public.
The environmental benefits of wind-energy development, mainly reductions in atmospheric pollutants, are enjoyed at wide spatial scales, while the environmental costs, mainly aesthetic impacts and ecological impacts, such as increased mortality of birds and bats, occur at much smaller spatial scales. There are similar, if less dramatic, disparities in the scales of realized economic and other societal benefits and costs. The disparities in scale, although not unique to wind-energy development, complicate the evaluation of tradeoffs.
Representatives of federal, state, and local governments should work with wind-energy developers, nongovernmental organizations, and other interest groups and experts to develop guidelines for addressing tradeoffs between benefits and costs of wind-energy generation of electricity that occur at widely different scales, including life-cycle effects.