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U.S. takes giant leap toward wind energy

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Four of six wind turbines of the Somerset Wind Farm are shown on pasture land on June 19, 2012 near Somerset, Pennsylvania. The wind farm has been operational since 2001 and the six GE 1.5 MW turbines produce enough electricity for 3,400 homes. Plans to develop a 30-turbine Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm nearby were scrapped on June 12, 2012 due to environmental and resident concerns. Wind power has expanded in the United States over the past decade and is now about 3 per cent of all electric power in the country. UPI/Pat Benic | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/7a6c4713abf131827770bc2ae4f11dcd/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Four of six wind turbines of the Somerset Wind Farm are shown on pasture land on June 19, 2012 near Somerset, Pennsylvania. The wind farm has been operational since 2001 and the six GE 1.5 MW turbines produce enough electricity for 3,400 homes. Plans to develop a 30-turbine Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm nearby were scrapped on June 12, 2012 due to environmental and resident concerns. Wind power has expanded in the United States over the past decade and is now about 3 per cent of all electric power in the country. UPI/Pat Benic | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Interior said it completed environmental reviews for onshore and offshore wind energy, including a 3,000 megawatt project.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the final environmental impact statement was released for the proposed Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farms in Wyoming. The complex could include as many as 1,000 turbines and generate as much as 3,000 MW of power.

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An assessment of wind energy areas off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts will be used by U.S. regulators to make future lease decisions in an area encompassing roughly 165,000 acres.

Salazar, in a statement, said the two projects would put the United States at the forefront of the move to advance renewable energy resources.

"When it comes to wind energy, we're making significant progress both onshore and offshore to diversify our nation's domestic energy portfolio and stand up a clean energy economy," he said.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee, said the eastern seaboard could emerge as a pioneer for wind energy, while the wind regime in Wyoming could spin the turbines that would make up one of the largest wind farms in the world.

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He said his Republican counterparts, however, were trying to block some of the steps needed to advance the projects. Republican leaders have pressed the White House for more oil and natural gas drilling.

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