ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O'Malley vetoed a 13-month moratorium on building wind turbines within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River, saying the bill is unnecessary and would send a chilling message to renewable energy developers.
The bill would have delayed construction on wind turbines to wait for a study on how they could affect radar use around the base. Supporters of the bill argued it was important to consider needs of the base, a big economic engine in southern Maryland. But opponents contended it sent a bad message to businesses and harms wind farm development in Maryland.
"There are already safeguards in place to ensure that no renewable energy projects conflict with military facilities — those safeguards render this bill unnecessary," O'Malley said in a statement.
Opponents of the bill said it would have threatened development of a wind farm in Somerset County due to expiring federal tax credits.
In a letter to House Speaker Michael Busch, O'Malley wrote the bill "would effectively kill a $200 million investment in the county, along with much-needed jobs and local tax revenue, all because of the perceived inconvenience that wind turbines pose to operations at Pax River."
"Ironically, the greater inconvenient truth threatening Pax River — and the billions of dollars of economic activity generated by the facility — is climate change," O'Malley wrote.
The governor also noted that developers of the Great Bay Wind project have engaged in years of painstaking negotiations and played by the rules after investing millions of dollars.
"If this moratorium were to take effect, it would send a chilling message to clean energy investors, developers, manufacturers, construction firms, engineers and sustainable businesses that the state can change the rules at the eleventh hour," O'Malley wrote.
Del. John Bohanan, a St. Mary's County Democrat who supported the bill, said he supports renewable energy, but that the Legislature acted decisively in support of the men and women in uniform at the base.
"I am disappointed by a veto that protects investors from an expiring federal tax credit over the job security concerns of Maryland families who work at Pax River Naval Air Station," Bohanan wrote in a statement.