Congressional Attacks Pick Up Again Against Wind Power

Once again, representatives of the U.S. wind power industry are finding themselves fighting a battle against legislative attacks from politicians hoping to stymie new development of projects. Laws that would have been damaging to an already struggling offshore wind power business in the U.S. almost made it into the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and now, two new provisions in two pending bills in Congress are reigniting the fight.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the wind power industry’s major trade association, two new anti-wind energy provisions in two pending bills in Congress would create unnecessary and costly hurdles for wind development at a time they say is particularly important for the country to diversify its energy mix. Both provisions — one in Coast Guard legislation and the other in Defense Legislation — offer harmful bureaucratic “solutions” for nonexistent problems, says AWEA. Each provision follows, in the words and descriptions of AWEA: – Military radar study of wind turbine impacts: An amendment inserted by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) into H.R. 1815, the Defense Authorization Bill, calls for a study of how wind energy projects might affect military radar systems, even though previous studies have already shown that radar interference is not a problem. As justification for his unilateral action, Sen. Warner cites concerns in the United Kingdom about possible impacts on military radars, but, ironically, the British Ministry of Defense (MOD) recently announced that “actually it really isn’t a problem for the air defense community.” And here in the U.S., as part of the Environmental Impact Statement for a wind farm proposed off Nantucket Island, the U.S. Air Force has found that the proposed project would not negatively affect the Force’s Cape Cod radar installation. – Coast Guard review of wind projects: Language in the manager’s amendment to H.R. 889, the Coast Guard authorization bill, calls for the Guard Commandant to review offshore wind energy projects — an unnecessary provision that adds a wasteful and redundant layer of red tape to a thorough permitting process in an attempt to delay proposed clean energy wind projects. The Coast Guard already has the authority to review offshore wind projects on the issue of navigation — it does not need to be asked to do its work twice. Such anti-wind energy efforts are not guided by public policy concerns, but by Not-In-My-Backyard sentiments that lead wind energy opponents to try time and again to delay or derail a project. Sen. Warner, a co-sponsor of an earlier failed effort to delay development of the Cape Wind offshore project in Massachusetts, is said to have family members who own property in Nantucket.
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