Legislation banning wind energy projects across central and eastern portions of North Carolina used for military training flights failed to clear the House amid a contentious end-of-session showdown with the Senate over multiple bills before the state’s General Assembly adjourned last week.
The measure approved in the North Carolina Senate last month was designed to protect missions at several installations by banning projects located in military training areas included on a map developed for the state’s Military Affairs Commission. The state’s new Department of Military and Veterans Affairs would have reviewed applications to build turbines and recommended whether to approve or deny them based on how the projects would affect military training.
But despite passing with bipartisan support in the Senate, the measure pitted local advocates for military installations against wind proponents and officials from regions planning to take advantage of some of the strongest wind energy assets along the East Coast. Opponents of the legislation, including environmental groups, say the boundaries go further than the corridors mapped out by DOD.
The legislation put at risk two large wind farms proposed in coastal North Carolina that would generate more than 400 megawatts from an estimated 150 turbines, reported the News & Observer.
Following the measure’s defeat in the House, a group of eight lawmakers vowed to reintroduce the bill in the General Assembly during next year’s “long session” as part of their effort to protect military training routes from incompatible development.
“Make no mistake — if we fail to fully protect our military installations, decision-makers in Washington could award them to states that will, and our local communities will be left picking up the pieces. Three taxpayer subsidized wind projects that create few jobs for North Carolinians should not take priority over the hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars that we could jeopardize if we fail to stand up for our military,” according to a joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R) and seven other lawmakers.
Wind energy advocates said the Senate bill would unnecessarily have halted projects given the military’s existing role in reviewing them, reported the Coastal Review Online.
“Communities in Eastern North Carolina should be able to attract investment from the wind industry through the comprehensive permitting process adopted by the legislature in 2013. That process requires input from the military,” Melissa Dickerson, coastal coordinator for the North Carolina Sierra Club, said after the Senate approved the bill. “The proposed legislation adds unnecessary complexity and uncertainty for businesses navigating the wind permitting process.”