SAN FRANCISCO — The Sierra Club sued the Defense Department in federal court Wednesday for allegedly halting construction of wind farms across the United States by failing to complete a study on whether they interfere with military radar.
The suit filed in U.S. District Court claimed that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the Pentagon missed a deadline for completing a study that is holding up permits for more than a dozen wind-farm projects in the Midwest.
"The end result is the wind industry is being crippled," said attorney Kristin Henry of the Sierra Club.
The study was ordered by Congress this year and must be completed before the Federal Aviation Administration can issue safety permits for the projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said that the department had updated Congress and that delays were needed to ensure that arrays of huge wind turbines do not interfere with long-range radar. "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 of wind farms could make developers ineligible for federal tax credits available until the end of 2007, Henry said.