What is it about?

After compiling almost 36,000 newspaper articles, we associated them with specific wind projects in both the USA and Canada between 2000-2016. We coded whether opponents protested, used the courts, tried to block permits, or wrote letters to the editor. We found that opposition was common and growing over time in both the USA and Canada. In the early 2000s, only around 1 in 10 wind projects was opposed. In 2016, it was closer to 1 in 4 projects. Likely, this has only grown in the past few years. Opposition to wind energy projects was concentrated in the Northeast, US and in Ontario, Canada. It was more likely for larger projects, with more and taller turbines. In the US, opposition was not partisan; in Canada it was more likely in places with lower Liberal support. What predicts opposition to wind energy? In the US, it's more common in Whiter communities; in Canada, it's more common in wealthier communities. We also found that the names of people in newspaper articles on anti-wind actions were very likely to be White. Opposition to wind energy involves small numbers of people: in the US, the median number of protest participants was 23, in Canada it was 34. Compare that to the 75,000 people who protested this month against climate inaction in NYC alone.

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Why is it important?

Our work concludes that when wealthier, Whiter communities slow down the clean energy transition, they are extending the lifetime of polluting infrastructure in lower-income communities and communities of color. We call this dynamic "energy privilege."


This project took almost a decade to complete. Big thanks to my co-authors Emma Franzblau, Jessica Lovering and Chris Miljanich. And to all the students who received course credit or financial compensation to help us dig through the massive pile of data!

Dr. Leah Stokes
University of California Santa Barbara

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Prevalence and predictors of wind energy opposition in North America, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2302313120.
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