The Oklahoma Senate on Monday passed a bill that would create three-year moratorium on the building of wind farms east of Interstate 35.
Senate Bill 1440, by Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, passed by a vote of 32-8 and heads to the House, where Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, is the House author.
Sears said the moratorium is needed so lawmakers can learn more about the impact the wind farms have on property and the environment.
Curt Roggow, a lobbyist for the Wind Coalition, a regional trade organization, said his group is opposed to the bill.
He said the legislation is the result of a dispute between two large property owners in the eastern part of the state. One neighbor wants to tell the other neighbor what he can’t do with his land, Roggow said.
The dispute needs to be resolved locally in a manner that does not jeopardize developments in the rest of the state, Roggow said.
A moratorium means billions of dollars will be turned away in additional investments, Roggow said.
“It also violates private property rights that landowners have to use those resources to build their operations,” Roggow said.
Frank Robson is a Claremore businessman and founder of the recently formed Oklahoma Property Rights Association.
He said his neighbor wanted to put a wind farm in. He said wind farms are harmful to a person’s health, the environment and would devalue his property.
“It will be a slaughterhouse in the sky,” Robson said.
Currently, there is no regulation of the wind industry, Robson said.
“There has to be a period of time where you can get a regulation to be equitable to the wind people and be equitable to the land owner worked out,” he said.
Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, voted for the measure.
He said policy makers need to learn from some of the problems that occurred in western part of the state. Wind farms are a fairly recent development and have exploded in number, he said. The state needs to move forward on what it can do for property owners, he said.
The Senate passed a bill that would require abortion clinics to have on-site a doctor with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic when the procedure is performed.
Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Bill 1848, which passed 34-8 and heads to the House. Treat said the measure is designed to protect the health of women.
“What is eminently clear is that the intent of this legislation is not to provide the best evidence-based care to women, but to restrict access to safe, legal abortion,” said Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “If this bill passes, it could potentially shut down two of the three providers in the state, reducing access to safe, constitutionally protected abortion to women across Oklahoma.”
The Senate also passed a bill to create a pilot program where the state would pair nonprofits with programs that successfully divert women from prison. Senate Bill 1278, by Sen. Kim David, R-Wagoner, is based on Women in Recovery, a Tulsa program that began in 2009.
“This is a program that is literally a last chance for these women,” David said. “They no longer qualify for drug court or other programs aimed at keeping nonviolent offenders out of prison. But 85 percent of these women have children. We know if we don’t intervene the cycle will just continue.”
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