Democratic News

Senate Negotiators Reach Agreement on Cape Wind Language in Coast Guard Bill
Deal preserves integrity of EPACT siting process
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici and Ranking Member Jeff Bingaman announced that they have reached an agreement with Senators Ted Kennedy and Ted Stevens on changes to a provision inserted at conference into H.R. 889, the Coast Guard appropriations bill, related to a controversial wind project in the Nantucket Sound.
The four senators have agreed to a concurrent resolution that will replace Section 414 of the conference report, which would have given the Coast Guard and the governor of Massachusetts final approval over the siting of the Nantucket Sound wind farm. The concurrent resolution drops any reference to the governor of Massachusetts and gives the commandant of the Coast Guard only the authority to spell out the terms and conditions for the wind project which are necessary for navigational safety.
Chairman Domenici’s statement:
“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to address the concerns of my colleagues while preserving the integrity of the siting procedure we outlined in the Energy Policy Act. In this instance, the governor veto is gone and the Coast Guard is only allowed to address navigational safety concerns. For all future projects, we will use the siting model we created in the energy bill. That’s a sound model. It gives the Coast Guard and other federal agencies a voice; it gives local and state governments a voice; but it prevents local special interests from torpedoing a reasonable and much-needed energy project in federal waters.”
Senator Bingaman’s statement:
“The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave the Secretary of the Interior the authority to issue permits for alternative energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf. But it did not diminish the Coast Guard’s authority over navigational safety, and it expressly required the Interior Department to consult with the Coast Guard before granting leases for projects like Cape Wind.  The new language for Sec. 414 confirms the Coast Guard’s role for ensuring the navigational safety of the Cape Wind project.  This is an appropriate clarification to make and it ensures that Cape Wind’s proposal will receive a fair and unbiased consideration on the merits.”
The agreement was finalized late Tuesday with House and Senate leaders. The House will, in the enrollment of the HR 889 conference report, pass a concurrent resolution that makes the agreed-upon changes. The Senate will follow suit.
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