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How does wind energy compare with other forms of energy in regards to global warming and other environmental issues?

Each of EcoEnergy’s 1.5-2.5 megawatt turbines produce between 4 and 6.5 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy each year, releasing no C02. A typical power plant burning fossil fuel to produce the same amount of energy releases at least 6.84 million pounds of pollutants into the air.

Wind energy offers one of the cleanest sources of electricity for our nation’s future, according to the American Wind Energy Association and the staff of the Renewable Energy Policy Project ("The Environmental Imperative for Renewable Energy: An Update").

Wind energy system operations do not generate air or water emissions and do not produce hazardous waste. Nor do they deplete natural resources such as coal, oil or gas, or cause environmental damage through resource extraction and transportation, or require significant amounts of water during operation. Wind’s pollution-free electricity can help reduce the environmental damage caused by power generation in the U.S. and worldwide.

According to a 2007 report from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project, U.S. power plants emitted roughly two-thirds of the sulfur dioxide, 40% of carbon dioxide, 22% of nitrogen oxides and about a third of all mercury emissions released into our nation’s environment, mostly the air. These figures are currently increasing in spite of efforts to roll back air pollution through the federal Clean Air Act.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides cause acid rain, which harms forests and the wildlife they support. Many lakes in the northeast U.S. have become biologically dead because of this form of pollution. Acid rain also corrodes buildings and other important infrastructure such as bridges. Nitrogen oxides (which are released by otherwise clean-burning natural gas) are also a primary component of smog.

Carbon dioxide (C02) is a global warming pollutant – its buildup in the atmosphere contributes to global warming by trapping the sun’s rays on Earth as in a greenhouse. The U.S., with 5% of the world’s population, emits 20% of the world’s C02. The buildup of global warming pollution is not only causing a gradual rise in average temperatures, but also seems to be increasing fluctuations in weather patterns and causing more frequent and severe droughts and floods. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned in August, 2007 that climate change related to global warming is a "major problem" affecting everyone on Earth.

Particulate matter is of growing concern because of its impacts on health. Its presence in the air along with other pollutants has contributed to make asthma one of the fastest growing childhood ailments in industrial and developing countries alike, and it has also been linked to lung cancer.

Toxic heavy metals accumulate in the environment and up the biological food chain. A number of states have banned or limited the eating of fish from fresh-water lakes because of concerns about mercury, a toxic heavy metal, accumulating in their tissue.

If wind energy were to provide 20% of the nation’s electricity – a very realistic and achievable goal with the current technology – it could displace more than a third of the emissions from coal-fired power plants.