Offshore Task Force Created

In an effort to examine ways in which to close what he called gaps in Massachusetts’ ocean use policies, Gov. Mitt Romney has created the Ocean Management Task Force.

Boston, Massachusetts – March 28, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] In addition to generating recommendations for oversight and regulation of industrial uses within state waters, such as pipelines, and aquaculture, the task force will also regulate the future use of Renewable Energy offshore wind farms which have come under increased attention in the state. “Right now, private projects in public waters happen on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Romney said. “This is a first-in-the-nation approach to creating sound ocean management policies.” Under Romney’s plan, the task force will advise the administration on new management and planning regulations for projects in state ocean waters, which generally extend to three miles offshore. The administration’s regulations aim to protect and manage ocean resources in a manner that maximizes public use, utility and enjoyment while minimizing impacts on ecosystems. According to the administration however, the state currently lacks the ability to do offshore planning and is only able to review private project proposals in a reactive manner. The administration cited recent proposals in ocean waters off Massachusetts have revealed significant gaps in state and federal authority to permit offshore uses and lease open space. “We have accepted zoning as a means of planning on land for appropriate uses of largely privately-owned property, while virtually no planning is done for ocean spaces, which are public,” Environmental Affairs Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder said. “It is time to put some rational ocean management policies in place.” While developers of proposed wind farms off Massachusetts’ shores believe their Renewable Energy projects were the main catalyst for this latest action by the Governor, they see it as a good thing for their proposals. “We applaud the Governor’s initiative,” said Mark Rodgers of Cape Wind Associates which plans on building a 130 turbine, 420 MW wind farm off Cape Cod’s Horseshoe Shoal. “We believe that the more attention and scrutiny there is of all the issues of ocean based Renewable Energy, the better it will be for the Cape Wind project and the more obvious the benefits of the proposal will be.” While Cape Wind’s project would be outside of Massachusetts State waters and therefore might not be subject to Massachusetts’ laws, Rodgers said Cape Wind will have to wait and see if the new task force affects their project in any way. New York-based Winergy, LLC on the other hand, has submitted proposals in Massachusetts for seven wind farms off the state’s coast. This company’s projects range in size from 18 MW just off Cape Cod in the state’s waters to an ambitious 831.6 MW further out in federal waters. Winergy’s three smaller proposals are within the state’s waters and would be subject to the administration’s task force. Our feeling is that it’s a good thing,” said Winergy’s President Dennis Quarranta. “It’s a lot easier to get something done when you have a roadmap so I’d rather find out now.” Quarranta said there are at least 13 offshore wind farms already operating in Europe and that the time is now for the United States to embrace the many benefits of offshore wind. The Massachusetts task force will be comprised of individuals with expertise on local, state and federal coastal issues. The members will identify ways to balance the economic and industrial uses – in particular, projects that require zones that exclude other industrial or recreational uses of the same area – of state oceans with relevant public access and environmental concerns. The task force will be formed within the next 60 days and will be expected to submit policy recommendations to Herzfelder within the next six months. Jesse Broehl can be reached at jesse.broehl@solaraccess.com

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