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Protecting wetlands in wind turbine siting bill

Legislation adopted last week by the state Senate that streamlines the permitting process for large-scale wind turbine projects includes language proposed by Sen. Robert L. Hedlund that preserves local control over wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas. ...Hedlund also included language requiring that siting standards developed by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board are crafted to reflect the unique characteristics of the different regions of the Commonwealth.

Weymouth - Legislation adopted last week by the state Senate that streamlines the permitting process for large-scale wind turbine projects includes language proposed by Sen. Robert L. Hedlund that preserves local control over wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.

"The state, especially under the current administration, has a track record of choosing invasive development over the protection of environmentally sensitive areas," Hedlund said. "Too much power was taken away from our communities by the state and handed over to for-profit developers in chapter 40B. This language makes sure we don't repeat the same mistake in our efforts to develop additional clean, sustainable energy sources."

The bill, S2245, An Act Relative to Comprehensive Siting Reform for Land Based Wind Projects, attempts to expedite the permitting process for wind turbine projects capable of producing 2 megawatts or energy or greater. In many cases, the permitting process can take several years, due to hearings before multiple local, state and regional boards, and a lengthy appeals process.

Under the bill, large-scale wind turbine projects will apply for a single local... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Weymouth - Legislation adopted last week by the state Senate that streamlines the permitting process for large-scale wind turbine projects includes language proposed by Sen. Robert L. Hedlund that preserves local control over wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.

"The state, especially under the current administration, has a track record of choosing invasive development over the protection of environmentally sensitive areas," Hedlund said. "Too much power was taken away from our communities by the state and handed over to for-profit developers in chapter 40B. This language makes sure we don't repeat the same mistake in our efforts to develop additional clean, sustainable energy sources."

The bill, S2245, An Act Relative to Comprehensive Siting Reform for Land Based Wind Projects, attempts to expedite the permitting process for wind turbine projects capable of producing 2 megawatts or energy or greater. In many cases, the permitting process can take several years, due to hearings before multiple local, state and regional boards, and a lengthy appeals process.

Under the bill, large-scale wind turbine projects will apply for a single local permit before a municipal Wind Energy Permitting Board consisting of members of the local zoning, planning and conservation boards. Projects will be measured against a set of criteria spelled out by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board. A turbine such as Hull 2, a 1.8 megawatt turbine, would not qualify for the expedited permitting process.

All state permits will be issued by the Energy Facilities Siting Board.

Appeals from abutters will first go to the Energy Facilities Siting Board and then directly to the Supreme Judicial Court. Appeals are currently first heard at the Superior Court level, then by the State Appeals Court, before reaching the Supreme Judicial Court.

Concerned that, like with projects proposed under chapter 40B, wind turbine developers would be able to ignore local wetlands rules, Sen. Hedlund included specific language in the bill that allows the local Wind Energy Permitting Board to consider a project's impact on wetlands and other environmentally-sensitive areas. Only this local board would have the power to waive local wetlands bylaws.

"Many of the communities I represent have thoughtfully and deliberately extended additional protections to critical resource areas not covered under state laws. These areas include barrier beaches, vernal pools, and the watersheds around well fields," Sen. Hedlund said. "The decision to allow construction in these critical areas should be left up to those who serve on the local level and best understand the importance of these areas.

"We shouldn't destroy or compromise wetlands in the name of generating green energy."

Hedlund also included language in the bill requiring that the siting standards developed by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board are crafted to reflect the unique characteristics of the different regions of the Commonwealth.

"As we have seen with Chapter 40B, a one-size-fits all approach to the regulation of development doesn't work, especially when it comes to a state as geographically varied like Massachusetts," Hedlund said. "What is appropriate for Cape Cod is different than what is appropriate for the South Shore, just like what is appropriate for the Berkshires is different than what is appropriate for Boston."

An amendment proposed by Sen. Hedlund allowing the local Wind Energy Permitting Board to reject a project if it casts shadows on homes, schools, and health care facilities was rejected by the Senate.

Under state law, by 2015, 10% of all energy usage in the Commonwealth must come from renewable energy sources, such as the wind, sun, rivers or tides.


Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/...

FEB 8 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24528-protecting-wetlands-in-wind-turbine-siting-bill
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