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Washington's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) left unchanged its October decision to scale back but approve a wind farm in the heart of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

The project has faced opposition from environmental groups and nearby landowners because of its potential visual and noise impacts. Conservation groups also question its potential effects on the endangered northern spotted owl, as well as the marketability of the energy to be produced.

In October, the EFSEC recommended removing 15 turbines from the project, including seven in Underwood and eight in Hood River, Wash.

Opponents of the project disagreed with the council's earlier decision, citing scenic and wildlife impacts and raising mitigation measures such as nighttime lighting on the turbine blades. The council declined to revisit any of those issues.

The decision now stands with Gov. Christine Gregoire, D-Wash., who can choose to accept, reject or send the council's decision back for more work.


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