The Offshore Renewable Act bill that isn't here
Times touts mystery legislation, but why?
We find it curious that there would be a Cape Cod Times Editorial supporting a proposed Act that no one has ever heard about or seen or been published for public scrutiny.
The only people that know about the "Massachusetts Offshore Renewable Energy Development Act" as it is called are Rich Delaney and Mark Forest, but neither of which will be filing it.
What is this “innovative proposal” as the CC Times calls it, and how will it exactly promote “more dependency on domestic energy sources.”
They newspaper's Editorial also mentions a white paper that they quote from, but one had seen the document or proposed bill before the editorial was published.
Wouldn’t it seem to be a more logical step to report on a white paper that talks about an innovative proposal which then would lead to language that could be incorporated into potential legislation? And who would file it?
The Dark Knight of Renewable Energy to the rescue
Or is this simply another example of our lackluster Congressman William Delahunt using smoke and mirrors to pretend to be a leader in renewable energy, a mantle he threw off five years ago when he started taking orders from Senator Kennedy about such matters.
Or is Delahunt's AA, the redoubtable Mark Forest, continuing his herculean efforts to undo the harm Delahunt has already done to his reputation.
Remember, two years before George Bush's coup d'etat in Florida in 2000, Mr. Delahunt had lost his attempt to replace Gary Studds by challenging Phil Johnson's primary victory by fifty or so votes. Delahunt was a Quncy DA at the time and he challenged the result in a Quincy court where the judge saw enough "hanging chads" to change the outcome in his DA's favor.
One of the few smart moves Delahunt has made in the intervening years has been to hang on to Studd's right hand man, Mark Forest, who must be very frustrated at times working for someone so much less intelligent than Studds.
What the "White Paper" would do
The proposed Massachusetts Offshore Renewable Energy Development Act (see the proposal below) would serve to override the Massachusetts Oceans Sanctuary Act which protects most of coastal Massachusetts, but do we want to override that Ocean Sanctuaries Act?
This proposed bill would allow coastal towns to create local wind, wave and tidal pilot projects in protected Massachusetts waters. By what logic do the bill's writers think that Harwich, or Mashpee or Westport has the money to venture a project whose costs could run into the tens of millions before the first kilowatt is produced.
Some coastal towns can't even give their kids a free bus ride to school.
If there is such concern with the view shed and the Cape Wind project, how are host communities going to deal with these test sites closer to shore?
The last sentence of the editorial claiming that this “proposed act begins to put Massachusetts on the path of meeting or exceeding energy demand by 2025” doesn’t tell us how that will be accomplished, and there are no predictions on energy producing goals. And isn't there already a renewable energy project languishing in limbo due to Mr. Delahunt's personal efforts to stop it?
Finally, the only mention of Cape Wind is in the headline “Beyond Cape Wind” which implies that this new legislation if it's ever filed and passed will spur development of renewables closer to shore after Cape Wind is built.
Delahunt, Cashman and the three Buzzards Bay Wind Farms
Some of you readers may recall reports almost a year ago of a meeting in Mr. Delahunt's office where Jay Cashman, Mark Forest and others met to plan more renewable energy projects for the Bay State.
Or was that meeting as well as this new "white paper" a way to undo State Senator O'Leary's benchmark legislation to protect our waters? Maybe this is just another way to get the Cape Cod Times' readers attention away from Cape Wind by dangling the Buzzards Bay projects in front of us like a hypnotist's swinging watch.
If our congressmen is so deeply concerned about our region's need for more energy, wouldn't it be faster, easier and more honest to start campaigning for the immediate completion of the reviews on a project which one private developer has already invested five years and over $20 million dollars on.
Given the British government report yesterday on the almost certain economic disaster facing coastal communities, the shoreline on Cape Cod may be underwater in this century as far back as High Brewster and Shoot Flying Hill in Barnstable, and Delahunt's "Cape Cod island" constituents can wave at the congressman over miles of saltwater.
Think about it Mr. Delahunt. Starting to work for the immediate approval of the Nantucket wind farm might make Senator Kennedy angry, but he's 74 and can't be a power broker much longer, but our new Governor-to-be is only fifty, and you'll be taking orders from him soon enough anyway.
For the more curious among you who may be wondering what our local daily's editors were writing about we have obtained a copy of the "White Paper" below;
Massachusetts Offshore Renewable Energy Development Act
Background: With the need to diversify and “green” energy sources now becoming critical, several proposals to construct renewable energy facilities off the coast of Massachusetts have focused attention on the need to provide a regulatory framework and planning process that would result in the most appropriate siting and productive operation of these facilities. Many of the proposed energy technologies are promising; but, need pilot testing and further research and development.
There is also increasing interest at the Federal and State levels in developing Comprehensive Ocean Management Plans that would address this kind and other uses of the ocean waters; but these initiatives have yet to begin and, even under the best of circumstances, will not likely be place for several years.
Goal: To provide an immediate opportunity and process for designating specific areas of Massachusetts waters that would serve as renewable energy testing and develop sites. These sites would have both local and state approval, provide energy development companies with immediate R&D and testing opportunities which if successful, could be converted to long-term energy production facilities, and ultimately become part of the comprehensive ocean management plans.
Key Features of Act: The new Massachusetts Offshore Renewable Energy Development Act (MORED) would feature:
Incentives for coastal municipalities to identify specific sites and kinds of energy technologies that would be acceptable and appropriately located within their jurisdictions.
a. Requires local approval for designations.
b. Authorizes local jurisdictions to enter into development agreements with private developers that will describe and confirm local mitigation measures as part of the use of the test site.
c. Provides control over type, extent and duration of testing activities.
d. Provides an opportunity to develop at least one component of an offshore management plan in a more timely manner.
A set of environmental and management criteria that would guide the designation of these piloting testing areas.
e. General criteria would be included in the Act and more detailed criteria would be established via regulations.
f. Compliance with the criteria of the Act would establish a presumption of approval.
Incentives for private and public entities to utilize these areas to develop renewable energy technologies including a set of criteria that would enable the transition from testing stage to production stage should the new technologies prove to be successful.
g. Provides opportunity to negotiate terms and conditions for the testing site directly with adjacent communities.
h. Provides a set of criteria for monitoring and evaluating testing activities, which if met, assure the transition from testing stage to production stage.
i. Streamlines the permitting and regulatory process.
The highest ranking elected public entity of a coastal municipality, Mayor, Board or Council, would be empowered to submit to the Governor a proposed area of coastal waters to be designated as a “renewable energy pilot testing and development” site.
On behalf of the Commonwealth, the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs / Coastal Zone Management Office (EOEA/CZM) and Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) would review the proposed for compliance with the criteria contained in the Act.
Upon successful compliance with the criteria, the Commonwealth through its CZM Program would designate the boundaries of the testing site and the appropriate uses for the area.
Once designated, the coastal municipality would be authorized to enter into a Use Agreement with one or more renewable energy developers that would describe the conditions, mitigation measures, and duration of any piloting testing and development activities to be conducted in the area. The Commonwealth, through EOEA/CZM and the ESFB, would provide technical assistance and comments for the coastal municipality.
It will be presumed that proposed activities approved by the coastal municipality will be allowed unless the Commonwealth can demonstrate that they are not in compliance with the criteria contained in the Massachusetts Offshore Renewable Energy Development Act.
State authorities in these areas, specifically the Massachusetts Ocean Sanctuaries Program M.G.L. c. 132A, §§ 12A-16F, 18: Ocean Sanctuaries Act; 302 CMR 5.00: Ocean Sanctuaries and the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act MGL c. 91 and the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act MGL c. 131 Section 40 will be interpreted to allow for the Local Agreement.
If such interpretation is not provided for in the existing regulations, provisions may need to be added to assure the implementation of the MORED Act.