Cape Wind Supporters Bring the Fight to the Capitol

Leaders of a diverse group of labor, trade, industry and environmental organizations announced the creation of a broad coalition working to strike language in a Coast Guard Bill they say unfairly targets the controversial Cape Wind project.

Cape Wind is America’s first proposed offshore wind farm and is being reviewed by 17 Federal and State agencies in a process that began in 2001. American Wind Energy Association Legislative Director Jaime Steve began the Press Conference with this announcement, “Today, we are sending out a letter from 55 labor, trade, industry and environmental organizations to every Member of the Senate and House of Representatives urging them to reject the backdoor anti-offshore wind power language that was inserted in Conference Committee.” Steve added, “Speaking for the American Wind Energy Association, we think it is imperative that as the Coast Guard Bill goes to the Floor that Congressmen and Senators speak out against this unfair provision and not vote for a bill that contains it.” Steve continued, “The United States is already 15 years behind Europe in offshore wind. Cape Wind provides us the chance to catch up and reap the benefits of providing clean offshore wind power to our coastal population centers, this is not the time for Congress to torpedo offshore wind development,” Steve added. Speaking for the National Ocean Industries Association, Public Affairs Director Michael Kearns stated, “The provision giving a Governor Veto power over an energy project in federal waters would set a dangerous precedent and harm America’s ability to develop its own domestic energy resources to become more energy independent. At a time when energy costs are rising, our government should be working to remove impediments to developing new supply. This provision would do exactly the opposite,” Kearns added. Lehman Brothers Managing Director Ted Roosevelt IV voiced concern that this legislative provision could deter the financial community from investing in offshore renewable energy projects, having an impact far beyond Cape Wind: “The language slipped into the Coast Guard Conference Bill would create a random political risk for offshore wind projects that the financial community could not quantify. That would have a very strong chilling effect in the offshore wind industry for probably a decade, if not a generation,” Roosevelt added. For Bruce Burton, International Representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Cape Wind and offshore wind offer job growth potential for his members and he stated that IBEW would fight this anti-offshore wind provision. Burton noted, “Projects like Cape Wind provide jobs with good salaries and benefits for working Americans. At a time of record high oil prices it just doesn’t make sense to close the door on offshore wind power.” For others in the Coalition, the need to correct a flawed legislative process is the most important consideration. “Cape Wind is a promising clean energy project that should not be killed by a backroom deal,” said Anna Aurilio, Interim Director of the US Public Interest Research Group. Aurilio continued, “Congress should not let a handful of special interests corrupt the political process at the expense of an important project with broad public support. The section that threatens wind power is unrelated to the navigation and security issues dealt with in the Coast Guard Reauthorization; it has not been debated on the floor of either chamber. Congress should strip this language from the Coast Guard Reauthorization Conference Report.” Other groups that joined in the campaign include The Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace USA, the Conservation Law Foundation, and Clean Power Now, among others.
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