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Andy Harris sounds off again against offshore wind off Ocean City

A house committee supported Congressman Andy Harris’ views on offshore wind in a recently passed budget bill, the Eastern Shore representative announced Wednesday.

The language authored by Harris was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations for the fiscal year 2019 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

“The Committee is concerned that changes may have been made to the proposed wind farm off Ocean City, (Maryland), after review of the project by the State Public Service Commission, and the Committee is aware of the Town of Ocean City’s concerns regarding the height of the wind turbines. …”

The bill continued by asking the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to consult with Maryland’s renewable energy task force prior to the review and approval of any construction and operations plan.

Harris has previously said more studies need to be done in order to understand the impact the turbines could have on Ocean City and the surrounding area. He is sponsoring a measure by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to spend up to two years studying the project’s potential consequences.

“When granting initial approval of offshore wind turbines along Maryland’s coast, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management irresponsibly and consistently ignored the concerns of the National Park Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and most importantly, the people of Ocean City,” Harris stated in a release.

“The language I authored in the Interior Appropriations bill urges BOEM to work with other federal agencies, the State of Maryland, and the people of Ocean City to come to a consensus on the wind turbines’ height and distance from the shore prior to their approval of any construction and operations plan.”

Deepwater Wind and US Wind received approval in 2017 to construct two wind turbine projects off of Ocean City. The projects represent a critical test for the future of offshore wind development in the United States. They are set to become the first, large-scale projects of their kind.

Harris and Ocean City leaders have made their opposition to the project known, asking for the wind farm to be push farther from the shoreline.

The turbines, standing at 643 feet with red lights attached to the top, would be visible from Ocean City and Assateague Island, Harris said.

The proposed wind turbines would reduce property values, jeopardize the safety of those traveling by sea and pose a threat to Ocean City’s commercial fishing and tourism industry, Harris said..

“(The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) is obligated to work with the State of Maryland, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard on this project, and these issues must be resolved before any wind turbines are built off Maryland’s coast,” Harris said Wednesday.

“If these proposed 86 wind turbines will negatively impact the local communities, maritime safety, marine life, or economy of the region, the proposal must be changed to protect all affected stakeholders.”