Headwinds to a Clean Energy Future: Nuisance Suits Against Wind Energy Projects in the United States

10 Nov 2009 02:24pm Stephen Harland Butler 

In recent years, wind energy production has expanded exponentially in the United States. With this staggering growth of wind power in areas both rural and urban, neighboring property-owners have become more vocal in their opposition to the construction of new wind turbines. This comment analyses the current body of case law on nuisance lawsuits against wind power developments, in light of the historical development of nuisance law. Starting with Roman law and tracing nuisance law through its present state in the United States, the comment formulates an argument as to how nuisance law should be applied to wind turbines. The comment then considers the cases that have considered this issue, assessing them in view of the original purposes underlying nuisance law. The comment also advances the point that one of the most fully-reasoned decisions on the issue, a West Virginia Supreme Court case from 2007, threatens to undermine the legal and policy underpinnings of nuisance law while impeding the future development of wind energy in the United States.

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