Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to give quick approval to a first-in-the-nation ocean management act that would decide how and where projects such as wind turbines and LNG terminals could be built in state waters.
The legislation would also open up most of the state’s ocean sanctuaries to renewable energy development, including Boston developer Jay Cashman’s proposal for a wind farm in Buzzards Bay.
The renewable energy projects would have to comply with the terms of the ocean management plan, to be written by Dec. 31, 2009, and approved by the state secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
The Cape Cod Ocean Sanctuary, which is off the Cape Cod National Seashore, would remain off-limits to any type of development.
The ocean management act – which cleared the House in a 150-1 vote Thursday – is now on Patrick’s desk awaiting his signature in a matter of days.
“We support it,” said Patrick’s spokeswoman, Rebecca Deusser. “We are due to sign it.”
The bill was championed for the past two terms by Sen. Robert O’Leary, D-Barnstable. It also has the backing of Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, and passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month.
The legislation was praised yesterday by the Conservation Law Foundation, the Ocean Conservancy and Mass Audubon.
“Right now, it’s the wild west off the Bay State’s coast,” said Jack Clarke of Mass Audubon. “This bill is an opportunity to manage ocean sprawl based on sound science, smart economics and sensible management principles.”
Cape Wind’s proposal for 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound would be grandfathered under the state law because it is so far along in the permitting process. Cape Wind’s turbines would also be in federal waters.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which opposes Cape Wind, said the oceans bill was an improvement over a previous House legislation, but was still a “crack in the armor.”
“The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound supports ocean management and is pleased to see the state moving in this direction, but cautions that we need to remain vigilant to avoid industrialization of Nantucket Sound in both state and federal waters,” the group said in a statement.
The plan will be written by a 17-member commission made up of lawmakers, environmental experts and the fishing industry. A science advisory council would also work on the plan. The commission will decide issues such as how far projects should be from the shoreline, their size and environmental effects.
By David Kibbe
24 May 2008
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