Gov. Martin O’Malley confirmed yesterday that his administration will not allow commercial wind turbines on state forest land, ending a heated four-month debate.
“While we must continue to explore and make progress on creating a more sustainable and independent energy future for Maryland, we will not do so at the expense of the special lands we hold in the public trust,” the Democratic governor said.
O’Malley announced the decision, reported yesterday in The Sun, at a news conference at a scenic overlook in the Savage River State Forest. Opponents contended that allowing 40-story windmills on state-owned land in mountainous western Maryland would reduce its recreational value, spoil the landscape and lower property values, especially in the thriving Deep Creek Lake resort area of Garrett County.
O’Malley said the ban applies only to conservation lands owned outright by the state and managed by the Department of Natural Resources. It is not meant to discourage wind power development on other local, federal or privately owned land, he said.
The announcement follows four months of debate triggered by The Sun’s report in December that Pennsylvania-based U.S. Wind Force was seeking to lease and clear about 400 acres in the Potomac and Savage River state forests to erect about 100 wind turbines. The company has estimated that the leases could bring Maryland about $30 million over 20 years.
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