Tuesday, May 20, 2014

O'Malley Veto Preserves Eastern Shore Wind Farm, For Now

Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoes bill delaying wind farm projects
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Friday vetoed a bill that would have delayed — and likely derailed — a proposed wind farm in Somerset County, saying the legislation would send “a chilling message” to the clean-energy industry if it became law.

The governor’s decision was praised by environmentalists and some officials on the Eastern Shore as a way to bring much-needed jobs and green energy to a part of the state that is struggling economically.

But it ran counter to the wishes of U.S. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Southern Maryland lawmakers, who argue that a wind farm would compromise radar that tests the stealth capabilities of fighter jets at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, just across the Chesapeake Bay.

“I am deeply disappointed by Governor O’Malley’s veto,” Hoyer said in a statement late Friday afternoon. “This veto fails to demonstrate Maryland’s strong commitment and support for the mission of Patuxent River Naval Air Station.” He noted that the bill passed the General Assembly “with a strong, veto-proof majority” and was also backed by U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.).

Proponents of the wind farm project had urged O’Malley to overturn the legislation, arguing that it could scare away wind developers and taint the governor’s reputation as a dedicated environmentalist as he contemplates a White House bid.
Patuxent River Naval Air Station (PNAS), which sees the giant radar scrambling wind turbines on the opposite side of the Chesapeake Bay as a threat to it's advanced radar systems necessary for avionics testing, has already indicated (possibly under the duress of the CINC and down the chain of command) that it could live with the turbines. The thought is that the Administration values wind power more than it does the Navy's interests in a clean radar environment.
“The real threat to Pax River is not an array of wind turbines on the lower Eastern Shore, but rising sea levels caused by climate change,” O’Malley wrote. “If this moratorium were to take effect, it would send a chilling message to clean energy investors, developers, manufacturers, construction firms, engineers and sustainable businesses that the state can change the rules in the eleventh hour.”
I was just offshore of PNAS yesterday, but I neglected to get a good photo. So I stole this one.  PNAS does lie on some flat, low lying ground at the junction of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay, but at 3 mm per year of sea level rise, it will be quite a while before the rising Bay tops these seawalls, and floods the facility:


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