Ocean City Today

Twin petitions fight offshore wind

Federal response requires 99,000+ signatures; just under 1,200 gathered now
By Brian Gilliland | May 10, 2018
Photo by: File photo

(May 11, 2018) With both online petitions seeking to push offshore wind turbines 26 miles off the coast gathering fewer than 1,200 signatures, the “sleeping giant” resort Mayor Rick Meehan referenced in promoting the petitions still appears to be snoozing away.

“It’s time to awaken the sleeping giant and let the concerns of our residents and property owners be heard!” Meehan said in a post pinned to the top of his Facebook feed since April 19 reads. “If you want green, unseen energy, please take a moment and sign the petitions below.”

Meehan and councilmembers Dennis Dare, Mary Knight and Tony DeLuca promoted the petitions on their social media pages.

The resort has been fighting the installation of wind turbines located at the north and south ends of Ocean City in federal waters approved for the use by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Public Service Commission.

Measures to push the turbines farther offshore failed in Annapolis during this year’s session, and an amendment to halt the project added to the annual federal appropriations bill offered by Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) was scrubbed before it was adopted.

The mayor and council’s concern is the structures will affect the ocean views and, they believe, that will lead to a decline in property values.

The first petition was filed via petitions.whitehouse.gov, an Obama-era service allowing people to petition the federal government or force it to take a position or explain a policy or issue, should it reach the required number of signatures within a certain period.

The petition must reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days to prompt a response. However, according to published reports, 16 petitions have done so during the Trump administration without a response.

As of press time, according to the website, the petition has garnered 531 signatures, and will need another 99,469 today to warrant a federal response on the issue.

The other petition, appearing on the Clinton-era moveon.org, has 643 signatures as of press time. There is no threshold for response, as the signed petitions are emailed to those who are listed by the founding group as recipients. Included in the recipients are President Donald Trump, Gov. Larry Hogan, the U.S. House of Representatives, The U.S. Senate, the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland State Senate.

It is unclear who exactly started the petitions, or if some have signed both petitions.

Each petition asks to have the leasing areas where turbines could be located moved 26 nautical miles offshore.

For U.S. Wind at least, this rule would be fatal to the project, since 26 miles away is outside of the leasing area as determined by the federal government.

In the meantime, Rep. Harris reported this week that the Coast Guard came out against the turbines in 2013 and told the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that they would “result in unacceptable increases in risk to navigational safety.”

The BOEM overrode the Coast Guard’s objections.

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