House Committee approves Harris Amendment on Ocean City wind turbines
The House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment introduced by Congressman Andy Harris to the Interior Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018 on Tuesday.
Officials say that this amendment blocks the use of federal money to review site assessment or construction and operation plans for wind turbines less than 24 nautical miles from the State of Maryland shoreline — the distance people would not be able to see the turbines from the shoreline and affect the view scape.
Congressman Harris says, "Ocean City's economy heavily relies on its real estate and tourism sectors, and there has not yet been a proper examination on whether construction of these wind turbines will have a negative economic impact on the community. If construction of these turbines too close to the shoreline will reduce property value or tourism, then the turbines may cause more issues than they solve.
Furthermore, the Offshore Wind Energy Act (O.W.E.A.) guarantees that rate payers across Maryland cannot be asked to contribute funds to a proposed project that does not ensure positive economic, environmental and health benefits to the State. Neither US Wind nor Skipjack – the offshore wind developers responsible for the project proposal – have provided evidence that this project will result in the positive benefits that the O.W.E.A outlines."
Kathy Phillips, Executive Director and Assateague COASTKEEPER of the Assateague Coastal Trust, says, "There was a very public, very open, very transparent public comment period and stakeholder debate about this that took place over a six year time period. Ocean City, Worcester County, Maryland, private citizens, private businesses, and government agencies all took part in this six year public and transparent process.
In a matter of a few hours late last night, Mr. Harris made an 11th hour end run around the citizens of Maryland in an effort to kill the U.S. Wind Project and to pull back Maryland's move towards a cleaner future, a healthier future and green jobs – all to appease the lobbyists of Maryland's most polluting industry: dirty energy production through coal, oil and incineration. It is unfortunate he has such little regard for the communities in Maryland impacted by dirty energy production, such as Baltimore and Brandywine, and it is unfortunate he is attempting to kill thousands of green jobs on Delmarva and in the State of Maryland."
Karla Raettig, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters says, "When we began working on offshore wind over seven years ago, we worked together with our coalition partners to bring all stakeholders to the table, including local community leaders, labor organizations, elected officials, faith leaders, and health professionals for the common goal of improving the air quality in this state. Congressman Harris is ignoring the will of Marylanders and his constituents." "Our state and especially Congressman Harris' district is particularly vulnerable to climate change and this amendment is just willful ignorance to move our state into a clean energy economy."
David Smedick, Campaign and Policy Director for the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club says, "Offshore wind has broad public support in Maryland. Congressman Harris has put his fringe, personal agenda ahead of the interests of his constituents and the state. Offshore wind is going to be an economic driver for Maryland, and is wildly popular. We've seen supporters come out to events and hearings across the state for many years, including In the Lower Eastern Shore, Annapolis, and Baltimore. As we work to clean our air and protect our communities, and climate from fossil fuels, we need to move to our abundant clean energy resources like offshore wind."