Sustainable and socially just decarbonization faces numerous challenges, owing to high land demands for wind farms and weak economic and political institutions. In Brazil, a leader in the Global South in terms of rapid installation of wind power capacity since the 2001 electricity crisis, firms have built wind farms near host communities that are politically and economically marginalized, giving rise to numerous forms of subtle contention and overt opposition. We aimed to better understand the licensing materials for wind farms and the content of the host communities’ concerns about wind farms. We analyzed 18 “simplified” environmental impact reports, which created a legal path for wind farm construction, and conducted qualitative interviews in host communities in coastal Ceará state in northeastern Brazil. Our analysis reveals how firms appropriated and manipulated “crisis” in their environmental impact reports. Interviews with host community members reveal themes of ecological damage, fear, privatized land, employment, migrant workers and noise, in addition to evidence of active resistance to wind farms. These findings corroborate previous work on the overall nature of host community perceptions, add additional insight on the content of the licensing materials and expand the number of host communities analyzed for emerging sustainability challenges. More rigorous licensing procedures are needed to reduce corrupt practices, as well as the offering of avenues for community participation in the decision-making processes and eventual benefits of the wind farms.