WASHINGTON – Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, has introduced a bill that may facilitate the creation of wind farms of Virginia’s coast.
The bill was passed last year in the House of Representatives only to die in the Senate.
“I strongly believe that our nation is past due in efficiently developing a smart, forward-thinking energy strategy and our own sources of energy,” Wittman said. “The government must make it easier to move forward on renewable energy projects, instead of putting up bureaucratic red tape which stifles development and buries these projects in paperwork for years,” Wittman said in announcing the bill.”That is why I have introduced this legislation. While it is critical that energy development is safe and environmentally friendly, the process must become more efficient.”
Offshore wind energy, including wind farms off Virginia’s Atlantic coast, is seen as one avenue for creating independent energy resources, not under the control of any foreign power, for the U.S.
Wittman’s bill, The Advancing Offshore Wind Production Act (H.R. 1398), would streamline the approval of temporary infrastructure need to test and develop offshore wind power by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Wittman said that currently the process can take years, because of “bureaucratic hurdles.”
H.R. 1398 sets a 30-day timeline for the Secretary of the Interior to act on permits for all weather testing and monitoring projects in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The bill will also streamlines the environmental review process needed to place temporary infrastructure as long as the project is removed within five years, causes less than one acre of disruption at the location of each tower or device and causes no more than five acres of seafloor disruption within the proposed area for the project.
It also requires coordination with the Department of Defense, particularly key in Virginia where the defense community creates many jobs. The Navy, as well as environmental activists, opposed off-shore oil drilling because of the importance of keeping the ingress and egress from the Chesapeake Bay clear.
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