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Wind Power: Md. bill would end fast track for projects

Two years after Maryland legislators passed a law designed to breeze wind power projects through regulatory reviews, the state still has no active wind farms and the opponents of the 2007 bill are still fighting the change. ...Former state senator and former Frostburg mayor John Bambacus told a panel of legislators that the new law "totally gutted the regulatory process." Bambacus says public input is exceptionally important because wind turbines "are not benign structures," noting some are as "tall as the Washington monument."

ANNAPOLIS - Two years after Maryland legislators passed a law designed to breeze wind power projects through regulatory reviews, the state still has no active wind farms and the opponents of the 2007 bill are still fighting the change.

Some Western Maryland residents and wildlife enthusiasts voiced support Thursday for a bill that would repeal the "fast-track" regulatory approval for wind farms. Western Maryland Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel are sponsoring the repeal legislation.

The current law allows wind energy companies with projects of less than 70 megawatts to seek an exemption to obtaining a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience. Critics argued in 2007 and still maintain that the streamlined process cuts out public input on wind projects, but the law's supporters say it only removes extra environmental reviews that were stifling wind power development in Maryland.

During a Thursday hearing on the repeal bill, former state senator and former Frostburg mayor John Bambacus told a panel of legislators that the new law "totally gutted the regulatory process." Bambacus says public input is exceptionally important because wind turbines "are not benign structures,"... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ANNAPOLIS - Two years after Maryland legislators passed a law designed to breeze wind power projects through regulatory reviews, the state still has no active wind farms and the opponents of the 2007 bill are still fighting the change.

Some Western Maryland residents and wildlife enthusiasts voiced support Thursday for a bill that would repeal the "fast-track" regulatory approval for wind farms. Western Maryland Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel are sponsoring the repeal legislation.

The current law allows wind energy companies with projects of less than 70 megawatts to seek an exemption to obtaining a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience. Critics argued in 2007 and still maintain that the streamlined process cuts out public input on wind projects, but the law's supporters say it only removes extra environmental reviews that were stifling wind power development in Maryland.

During a Thursday hearing on the repeal bill, former state senator and former Frostburg mayor John Bambacus told a panel of legislators that the new law "totally gutted the regulatory process." Bambacus says public input is exceptionally important because wind turbines "are not benign structures," noting some are as "tall as the Washington monument."

Baltimore resident Ajax Eastman said her main concerns remain the "biological impacts" of the current policy. Many wildlife enthusiasts have often express concerns that wind turbines could harm birds and bats who migrate over mountains in western Maryland where turbines could be built.

Frank Maisano, a spokesman for a coalition of Mid-Atlantic wind-power developers, said the new law should be given a chance to work. He noted that two developers have begun the wind farm application process after the legislature passed the 2007 bill and are waiting for funding to come through to set up their projects.

"This legislation aimed to limit the delays, which historically have resulted in virtually no wind projects going forward in the state of Maryland - all while witnessing commercial wind projects being completed along the same ridgelines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia," Maisano said. "There is no reason to now undercut the effort and change the rules before we can even see results."


Source: http://www.delmarvanow.com/...

FEB 26 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19288-wind-power-md-bill-would-end-fast-track-for-projects
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