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St. Mary’s commissioner: Wind project would hurt national security

I’m writing in response to Andy Bowman’s commentary, “Politics, not safety concerns, hamper Eastern Shore wind project” (Dec. 1).

As he and your readers know, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) has formally objected to the Great Bay Wind project in Somerset County for the reasons of national security. For over the past year, the message of the significance of the ADAMS radar system at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station has been outlined and detailed. Yet distorted coverage, untruths, self -serving characterizations, and editorial commentary have found their way to your readers.

Legislation was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly last spring opposing the wind turbine project, and it passed both houses overwhelmingly with strong bi-partisan support. Yet, Gov. Martin O’Malley, for his own politically self serving reasons, vetoed the bill against the will of the people.

No one has been opposed to alternative forms of energy. It has been the height and location of this project that has caused the consternation. Four years ago the project was asked to move back 4 to 7 miles or lower the turbines to approximately 425 feet. That request was rejected, and continues to be rejected, by the developer. Parameters that could be accepted were mapped in detail. Yet the developer and project have been allowed to move forward unimpeded, despite warnings. I personally feel sorry for the residents of Somerset who were led down this blind trail.

The issues that have been raised were not politically driven, they were driven for the reasons of national security. Some of our nation’s leading technical experts have been involved with this project, analyzing the science behind advanced and sophisticated radar systems. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to support this research, with more to go. National, state and local officials were briefed and have been made well aware of the significance of the radar systems at Pax River. The technical conclusions obviously have led DOD to this decision. Readers should note, this is the first time DOD has formally objected to such a project for national security reasons.

It is my hope we can now move forward in a positive manner.

The recently announced Unmanned Systems test site located in St. Mary’s County is working to establish a relationship with Somerset County and is working at the Crisfield airport with its partners on this endeavor. This Friday the first test flight will be conducted, weather permitting, at 11 a.m.. It is my hope that the Easton airport will also become part of this relationship.

I am sure we can find other opportunities where our rural counties can work together in a cooperative and collaborative manner in the future.

Todd B. Morgan

The writer is a St. Mary’s County commissioner.