The confluence of federal, state, and local regulations governing the siting and development of new wind farms in the United States has made it increasingly difficult for developers to navigate the murky waters of permitting and approvals. Congress has long recognized the fact that wind farms have the potential to interfere with certain military operations, which is why Congress created the Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse in 2011 to protect DOD interests while encouraging new wind farm development.
In a recent meeting at the Pentagon, I had the opportunity to sit with various DOD personnel to discuss the Clearinghouse process for reviewing new wind farm projects. This process is more important now than it has ever been because military stakeholders are feeling increasingly constricted by the proliferation of new wind farms, many of which include turbines in excess of 200 feet tall. Regulators at all levels are responding to increased military pressure to protect military operations by making it more difficult to build wind farms that may interfere with military testing and training operations. This begs the question: what legal power does the DOD have over wind farm siting and development? The answer may surprise you.