Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Maryland
A bill to reduce environmental reviews required of wind turbine proposals in Maryland has breezed through the General Assembly, a move lauded by industry leaders pushing for renewable forms of energy in the state. The House of Delegates and Senate passed identical versions of the bill by overwhelming margins Friday. Gov. Martin O'Malley is reviewing the proposed legislation and is inclined to sign it into law, his spokesman, Rick Abbruzzese, said yesterday.
Lawmakers agreed Friday on a measure that will make it easier to build large wind power projects in Maryland, after the Senate voted 40-6 to agree to a similar bill passed in the House with amendments. The measure would allow developers to build wind farms that generate electricity for the wholesale market by eliminating environmental reviews looking at the potential impact on wildlife, endangered species and forest fragmentation that currently are part of the Public Service Commission's approval process.
Democracy and regulatory red tape can indeed be a tedious business. But that doesn’t excuse a move under way in the General Assembly to exempt a politically well-connected wind power developer from a long-established review process that has imposed thoughtful limits on his project. The proposal so thoroughly excludes citizen participation in reviewing this and future projects they wouldn’t even get a public hearing. Wind power may prove part of the answer to Maryland’s energy needs, but successful turbine projects must be able to withstand thorough scrutiny by the Public Service Commission, with the expert advice of all relevant state agencies and the comments of any interested citizens.
An alert was issued to the birding community in Maryland about a bill that has been proposed in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate that would expedite the construction of wind farms at will. If you live in Maryland and care about the environment and wildlife, please contact your representatives in Annapolis and urge them to oppose this bill. The bill would eliminate any requirement for any public review or notification — or even informing adjacent land owners whose property values could plummet. Nor would there be any environmental review of the impact on wildlife, endangered species, or forest fragmentation. All an applicant for a wind project would have to do is request a construction permit from the Public Service Commission. Nobody is trying to keep wind farms out of the state — only to keep them subject to adequate review to ensure that the locations and construction methods that are chosen will not harm birds and other wildlife and plants.
Rube Goldberg would admire the utter purity of the pretensions of wind technology in pursuit of a safer modern world, claiming to be saving the environment while wreaking havoc upon it. But even he might be astonished by the spin of wind industry spokesmen. Consider the comments made by the American Wind Industry Association.s Christina Real de Azua in the wake of the virtual nonperformance of California.s more than 13,000 wind turbines in mitigating the electricity crisis precipitated by last July.s .heat storm.. .You really don.t count on wind energy as capacity,. she said. .It is different from other technologies because it can.t be dispatched.. (84) The press reported her comments solemnly without question, without even a risible chortle. Because they perceive time to be running out on fossil fuels, and the lure of non-polluting wind power is so seductive, otherwise sensible people are promoting it at any cost, without investigating potential negative consequences-- and with no apparent knowledge of even recent environmental history or grid operations. Eventually, the pedal of wishful thinking and political demagoguery will meet the renitent metal of reality in the form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (85) and public resistance, as it has in Denmark and Germany. Ironically, support for industrial wind energy because of a desire for reductions in fossil-fueled power and their polluting emissions leads ineluctably to nuclear power, particularly under pressure of relentlessly increasing demand for reliable electricity. Environmentalists who demand dependable power generation at minimum environmental risk should take care about what they wish for, more aware that, with Rube Goldberg machines, the desired outcome is unlikely to be achieved. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology divert resources that could otherwise support effective measures, while uninformed rhetoric on its behalf distracts from the discourse.and political action-- necessary for achieving more enlightened policy.
Bowie-based conservation biologist D. Daniel Boone, another Synergics intervenor, said Rogers’ call for less regulation indicates that amid growing opposition, the wind industry “wants to short-circuit any meaningful public participation and review process.” Opposition to wind farms has increased, even in wind-friendly Pennsylvania, which Rogers cited as a model. Kerry L. Campbell, wind-energy specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, told the Maryland Wind Working Group workshop in Bethesda that people reared in his state’s mountainous coal country tend to welcome wind farms as a cleaner, less destructive energy source. But he said city folks who have moved to the countryside “don’t want to see turbines.”
Synergics Wind Energy is appealing the Oct. 30 decision made by hearing examiner David L. Moore, Maryland Public Service Commission. The examiner had approved the company’s application to build wind turbines in Garrett County, but with several environmental restrictions. At the October hearing, Moore okayed 24 conditions recommended by the Department of Natural Resources, including one that would prevent construction of the wind turbines in two areas in order to help preserve habitat for rare species.
A state Public Service Commission hearing examiner has recommended approval of a western Maryland wind power project - but with environmental restrictions that the developer has said could force it to reconsider. The proposed order will become final on November 30th unless it is appealed before then.
In an ambitious $3 billion plan, the nation's largest power generator has proposed building a 550-mile power line stretched atop 13-story towers to bring surplus electricity from coal-fired plants in Appalachia and the Midwest to the power-hungry eastern seaboard.