WASHINGTON - Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama
are blocking Senate confirmation of a Defense
Department nominee in an attempt to pressure the
Pentagon into releasing a study that is holding
up wind turbine construction in Illinois and
In July, the two Illinois Democrats
temporarily blocked the appointment of a top
aviation official. But they released their hold
on the nominee eight days later, when Federal
Aviation Administration officials assured them
they were expediting their reviews of whether
large wind turbines, used to produce
electricity, interfered with military radar.
Earlier this year, the FAA told Durbin it had
issued stop-work orders for at least 12 proposed
wind projects in the Midwest while the Defense
Department review is pending.
While one McLean County wind farm has since
been allowed to move forward, the uncertainty
caused by the study is bad for potential
investors and future projects, a Durbin aide
In their latest attempt to resolve the
dispute, the senators have blocked a Senate vote
on the nomination of Robert L. Wilkie as
assistant secretary for legislative affairs at
the Pentagon. He currently is acting assistant
"Each day this report remains delin-quent,
these wind energy projects lose opportunities
for new investment and may not be able to meet
deadlines for completion," the senators wrote in
a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
They asked that the report be released
immediately and, if problems are found, that the
report suggest ways to resolve them.
A Defense Department spokeswoman said the
study is progressing.
"We will continue to work to complete the
report as soon as possible. However, we must
ensure it is accurate and complete," said
Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez.
"We have provided several status updates on the
progress of the assessment to Congress. Until
the report is submitted to Congress, it would be
premature to talk about specifics."
Congress required the department study under
an amendment by Senate Armed Services Chairman
John Warner, R-Va., to the fiscal 2006 defense
authorization bill. The report was due in May.