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Massachusetts law to manage and protect ocean waters

Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law Wednesday a measure that will establish the nation's first management and protection plan for a state's ocean waters. The law sets ground rules for all offshore projects and businesses, including energy ventures and conservation areas that lie in state waters. The state controls all water within three miles of the coast, about 1.6 million acres of water. ...The law comes as numerous projects are being proposed for the waters off Massachusetts. They include liquid natural gas terminals, wind farms, and sand and gravel mining operations. Currently, the state approves projects case by case. The law acts much like zoning, laying out what can be built where.

Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law Wednesday a measure that will establish the nation's first management and protection plan for a state's ocean waters.

The law sets ground rules for all offshore projects and businesses, including energy ventures and conservation areas that lie in state waters. The state controls all water within three miles of the coast, about 1.6 million acres of water.

"This is a first in the nation for a comprehensive approach to managing the ocean," said Tom McCann, spokesman for the Ocean Conservancy, a national advocacy organization. "It's an important road map that other states can follow."

The law comes as numerous projects are being proposed for the waters off Massachusetts. They include liquid natural gas terminals, wind farms, and sand and gravel mining operations. Currently, the state approves projects case by case. The law acts much like zoning, laying out what can be built where.

"There's a symphony, sometimes a cacophony of activity going on or proposed in our coastal waters," said Ian Bowles, the state secretary of energy and environmental affairs. "What's unique about this is it puts everything on the table, how to prioritize things, how to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law Wednesday a measure that will establish the nation's first management and protection plan for a state's ocean waters.

The law sets ground rules for all offshore projects and businesses, including energy ventures and conservation areas that lie in state waters. The state controls all water within three miles of the coast, about 1.6 million acres of water.

"This is a first in the nation for a comprehensive approach to managing the ocean," said Tom McCann, spokesman for the Ocean Conservancy, a national advocacy organization. "It's an important road map that other states can follow."

The law comes as numerous projects are being proposed for the waters off Massachusetts. They include liquid natural gas terminals, wind farms, and sand and gravel mining operations. Currently, the state approves projects case by case. The law acts much like zoning, laying out what can be built where.

"There's a symphony, sometimes a cacophony of activity going on or proposed in our coastal waters," said Ian Bowles, the state secretary of energy and environmental affairs. "What's unique about this is it puts everything on the table, how to prioritize things, how to protect areas that need to be protected, support fishing and energy, and prepare for development."

Projects that have already undergone a full state review will not be subject to the law, and these include the controversial Cape Wind project, the nation's first offshore wind farm.

The law calls for the creation of a 17-member board to advise Mr. Bowles on ocean decisions and to include members from local planning commissions, a fishery, an environmental organization and an expert in renewable energy. Another panel that includes only scientists will also provide guidance.

"It's been a first-come-first-serve gold rush mentality with projects," said Priscilla Brooks, director of the ocean conservation program at the Conservation Law Foundation. "This allows the state to be proactive and plan for this development while taking into account the needs of the environment."

In 2003, the Pew Oceans Commission issued a report saying that states and the federal government were not protecting and managing ocean resources. It said the United States had "failed to conceive of the oceans as our largest public domain, to be managed holistically for the greater good."

Leon E. Panetta, a White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration and the chairman of the Pew Oceans Commission, said in a statement Wednesday that the Massachusetts law followed the spirit of what the Pew report called for.

"With this bill, Massachusetts has become a leader in ocean policy in this country," the statement said.


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008...

MAY 29 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/15212-massachusetts-law-to-manage-and-protect-ocean-waters
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