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Senate Republicans blow back on wind siting bill

Wind siting reform legislation continues to go nowhere fast.

At the end of the formal legislative sessions at the end of July, a group of House members from central and western Massachusetts threw up enough procedural roadblocks to prevent the bill from advancing to the Senate.??Now the Senate is engaged in its own round of parliamentary gymnastics by trying to pass the bill in informal sessions.

However, in these sessions, a single objection by any senator stops a bill dead in its tracks. Between them, Sen. Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican, and Sen. Michael Knapik, a Westfield Republican, have halted progress [on] the bill several times.?

The legislation, which would streamline the permitting process for onshore wind farms, is a prickly bit of business, especially for lawmakers and some environmental advocates in the Berkshires.??

Sen. Robert Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican, maintained party solidarity and objected to the bill on Thursday. However, according to a State House News Service session transcript (subscription required) he said that the legislation “takes an important step, in a reasonable fashion, to allow wind energy projects.” Hedlund also pointed to the absurdity of the ongoing maneuvers noting, “We should not be in this position as a full-time Legislature.”??

Is the Senate leadership’s plan to wait until the Republicans are so engrossed in hurricane updates that they’ll somehow forget all about the onshore wind bill, allowing the Democrats to pass the measure without them noticing? ??Pressed for details about the Senate’s strategy, David Falcone, the spokesman for Senate President Therese Murray, said:

“It is an important piece of legislation to advance our renewable energy commitment. We spent a lot of time and effort on this bill, and many communities are waiting for it. The bill was passed in the House at midnight at the end of session, and the Senate didn’t get the opportunity to take it up before adjourning.

We’ll continue to bring it up until it gets passed.”

Score that Senate Republicans: 4. Wind siting reform: 0.??The next informal session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 7 at 11 am.