The Interior Department has given a green light to a plan that would lease a huge offshore area along the Mid-Atlantic coast running from New Jersey to Virginia for wind-farm projects.
The announcement from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was reported Friday in the Baltimore Sun
, which quoted him as saying federal studies had shown there would be “no significant impact to the environment, shipping or other activities” as a result of allowing developers to build offshore turbines to generate electricity.
The newspaper said the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to start the lease-bidding process with about 80,000 acres off the coast of Maryland. The Sun noted that at least eight companies had expressed an interest in developing wind farms along the state’s coast.
“This is not going to be something that’s going to be waiting around for multiple years,” Salazar said at a news conference. “We’ll have those leases issued by the end of 2012.”
But despite Salazar’s pledge to move quickly, the Sun, quoting wind industry officials and supporters, said it could take up to five years before construction even begins, given “the regulatory, political and economic hurdles” that lie ahead.
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