Diverse Industry, Labor, Maritime & Environment Coalition Calls on Congress to Reject Backroom Attack on Offshore Wind Power
Fifty-five organizations sign letter to congress urging it stop the bill to kill the projectA new coalition held a press conference today, Thursday, April 20, to announce a campaign to urge Congress to reject an amendment inserted into a Coast Guard Bill by a small number of Congressmen and Senators in Conference Committee.
This backroom amendment pushed by special interests would unfairly target Cape Wind, and undermine Americaâ??s quest for energy independence and Congressâ?? call for more renewable energy.
The amendment would also deal a setback to legislative transparency and according to Theodore Roosevelt IV of Lehman deter America's financial institutions from investing in renewable energy project "perhaps for a generation."
American Wind Energy Association Legislative Director Jaime Steve began the Press Conference with this announcement, â??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 back door anti-offshore wind power language that was inserted in Conference Committee.â?
Steve added, â??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.â? Steve continued, â??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,â? Steve added.
Cape Cod's Air Quality worse than downtown Boston's
â??Projects like Cape Wind provide jobs with good salaries and benefits for working Americans. At a time of record high oil prices it just doesnâ??t make sense to close the door on offshore wind power.â? Bruce Burton, IBEW
Liz Argo, a Director of Clean Power Now said, â??We are a grass roots volunteer organization based on Cape Cod with over 5,500 members representing the voice of the local support of the Cape Wind project. We are proud to be part of a coalition that is going to work tirelessly to ensure that the Coast Guard bill is liberated from a special interest provision that unfairly targets offshore wind power.â? MS Argo went on to describe panic trips to the hospital with her children who have asthma after moving to Cape Cod which she said has air quality five times worse than downtown Boston due to the emissions from two power plant west of her home.
Speaking for the National Ocean Industries Association, Public Affairs Director Michael Kearns stated, â??The provision giving a Governor Veto power over an energy project in federal waters would set a dangerous precedent and harm Americaâ??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,â? 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: â??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, â??Projects like Cape Wind provide jobs with good salaries and benefits for working Americans. At a time of record high oil prices it just doesnâ??t make sense to close the door on offshore wind power.â?
Promising project should not be killed by a backroom deal
â??At a time when we need to end America's addiction to fossil fuels, this misguided approach would stifle investments in offshore wind and undermine our energy security." Katherine Kennedy, NRDC
For others in the Coalition spoke of 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."
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also voiced concerns, "This amendment, and the tactics used to insert it, represent the wrong way to go in crafting sound, national energy policy,â? said Katherine Kennedy, NRDCâ??s Director of the Northeast Energy Program, â??At a time when we need to end America's addiction to fossil fuels, this misguided approach would stifle investments in offshore wind and undermine our energy security."
John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA said, â??America needs to get its energy from sources like offshore wind if we are going to fight global warming that is raising sea levels and eroding vulnerable coastal areas like Cape Cod. Weâ??ve watched the successful experience in Europe with offshore wind, they have reduced pollution without harming wildlife and have become more energy independent. If anything, we need to speed up Cape Windâ??s approval process, not further slow it downâ?, Passacantando added.
Conservation Law Foundation President Philip Warburg spoke of the importance of Cape Wind to Massachusetts. â??The people of Massachusetts support Cape Wind by a margin of six to one. We are a community that has committed to one of the most ambitious climate action plans in the nation, and Cape Wind is the most promising project to help us reach our goals. Now, an unjust and secretive special interest maneuver threatens to snatch it from our grasp. People in Massachusetts are reacting with outrage and disgust, and are feeling abandoned by the leaders they trusted with their health and safety,â? Warburg said.
Cape Wind President Jim Gordon expressed gratitude for the broad support for Cape Wind and for standing up for an open and transparent government and regulatory process, â??All we have ever asked is that the 17 Federal and State agencies be allowed to finish their work without political interference and render their judgment. We are convinced these agencies will find that Cape Wind is in the public interest.â?
Among the highly respected groups signing the letter were Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Congress is expected to vote on the $8.7 billion dollar Coast Guard Reauthorization bill which contains the Steven "kill Cape Wind" amendment sometime after it returns next week from its spring recess.
Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said today, "There will be opposition to this on the floor of the Senate. It will be a number of senators."
The speakers today
The News Conference at the nation's capital was attended by most of the major media outlets. The speakers Include:
WHEN: 10 A.M., Thursday, April 20, 2006
WHERE: National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, Washington D.C.
BANANAism beats NIMBYism
As Anne Appbaum's Op Ed piece Tilting at Windmills in yesterday's Washington Post put it,
Along the coast of Nantucket, Mass. -- the only sufficiently shallow spot on the New England coast -- a coalition of anti-wind groups and summer homeowners, among them the Kennedy family, also seems set to block Cape Wind, a planned offshore wind farm. Their well-funded lobbying last month won them the attentions of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who, though normally an advocate of a state's right to its own resources, has made an exception for Massachusetts and helped pass an amendment designed to kill the project altogether... But they also reflect a deeper American malady. The problem plaguing new energy developments is no longer NIMBYism, the "Not-In-My-Back-Yard" movement. The problem now, as one wind-power executive puts it, is BANANAism: "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything." The anti-wind brigade, fierce though it is, pales beside the opposition to liquid natural gas terminals, and would fade entirely beside the mass movement that will oppose a new nuclear power plant. Indeed, the founders of Cape Wind say they embarked on the project in part because public antipathy prevents most other utility investments in New England.
MS Applebaum even had the wit to quote Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote saying, "Look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants rise up, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes."