USA: Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act Passes House of Delegates

USA: Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act Passes House of Delegates

The Maryland House of Delegates passed the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 (HB 441) with a 88 to 47 vote, a crucial step to bringing clean, offshore wind power to Maryland. The bill will soon come before the Senate Finance committee, where Chairman Mac Middleton is expected to bring it to a vote within the next few days.

The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 incentivizes the construction of ocean-based wind turbines 10 miles or more off the coast of Ocean City. It includes multiple new provisions to protect consumers and to stimulate Maryland’s economy. The bill requires that offshore wind power developers demonstrate that wind projects will produce positive net economic and environmental benefits for the state. The bill is modeled on an approach already adopted by New Jersey’s state legislature with bipartisan support.

Jen Brock-Cancellieri, deputy director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said: “Maryland voters support offshore wind because it works for ratepayers, workers, our health, and our climate. With today’s vote, the House of Delegates harnessed the winds of constituent support and took a significant step towards developing homegrown energy off the coast of the Eastern Shore.”

The offshore wind bill has won broad appeal throughout the state. A January 2012 poll by OpinionWorks showed that nearly two-thirds of Maryland voters are behind the offshore wind bill, with a majority citing jobs and health benefits as their primary reason for supporting the measure. Additionally, more than 10,000 Marylanders signed petitions urging passage of the bill and more than 200 businesses signed letters signifying their formal support.

Nancy Soreng, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, said: “The members of the League of Women Voters are very concerned about global warming and the devastating impacts that it will have on our planet and especially on our vulnerable state. By passing this bill, the House of Delegates has taken an important step towards addressing this looming crisis.”

Dr. Cindy Parker, M.D. with the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health said: “This bill’s passage would be a win for Maryland’s children and our most vulnerable populations. Replacing dirty coal with clean, renewable energy like offshore wind power will improve our air quality and public health, and help to keep our kids out of the emergency room from asthma.”

The Marylanders for Offshore Wind Coalition includes the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, Environment Maryland, the National Wildlife Federation, the League of Conservation Voters Maryland, the League of Women Voters, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, and Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light.

Offshore Wind Staff , April 02, 2012; Image: unitedseniors