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DiMasi to tour area of proposed Buzzards Bay wind farm

House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has taken up Rep. John F. Quinn’s offer of a boat tour of Buzzards Bay on Wednesday to get a firsthand look at the location of a proposed wind farm.

Rep. Quinn, D-Dartmouth, and Speaker DiMasi have been at odds over House legislation that would open up Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to large-scale renewable energy development. Rep. Quinn insists Buzzards Bay, with its busy shipping, fishing and recreational routes, is unsuitable for a wind farm for safety and environmental reasons.

Rep. DiMasi, D-Boston, has been promoting legislation for renewable energy. He is close friends with Boston developer Jay Cashman, who has proposed placing up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay.

Rep. DiMasi’s spokesman, David Guarino, said the speaker recognized that the region’s legislators had concerns about the project, and Rep. DiMasi wanted to be responsive, seeing the area for himself.

The House has provisions in both an energy bill and a proposed ocean management act that would clear the way for renewable energy development along most of the state’s coast. The Senate has proposed only small-scale renewable energy projects in state waters. The differences are being negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee.

“The amendment and the bill were designed to encourage more renewable – in this case wind – facilities across the coast, and he continues to believe that we need to move forward with these types of projects,” Mr. Guarino said on behalf of the speakerw.

Reps. DiMasi and Quinn and other SouthCoast legislators will tour the bay with Dartmouth Harbormaster Steve Melo in a Dartmouth Fire Department rescue boat.

“I’m glad he’s taking me up on the offer,” Rep. Quinn said.

He said the tour will show shipping lanes that oil barges use to get to the Cape Cod Canal. He contended a wind farm would also pose navigational problems for New Bedford’s fishing fleet.

Rep. DiMasi has a full day on the SouthCoast on Wednesday. He is speaking to the New Bedford and Fall River chambers of commerce in Westport at noon, taking the boat tour around 2 p.m., visiting UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology, and ending the day with a walking tour of downtown New Bedford with Mayor Scott W. Lang.

By David Kibbe
Standard-Times staff writer

www.southcoasttoday.com

8 April 2008