|Press Releases | Search DNR | DNR Home|
Governor O’Malley Announces Decision Regarding Wind Power Generation On Public Lands
Garrett County – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced that public lands managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will not be considered as sites for commercial wind power generation. State and local elected officials, conservation, business and community leaders joined the Governor for the announcement made from scenic Monroe Run Overlook in Savage River State Forest.
“While we must continue to explore and make progress on creating a more sustainable and independent energy future for Maryland, we will not do so at the expense of the special lands we hold in the public trust,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Our public land will continue to be managed for the essential environmental, recreational and economic values they provide for all of Maryland’s families and future generations.”
At the direction of the Governor, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources initiated a public comment process in late 2007 that included public meetings cumulatively attended by more than 700 people, meetings with local elected officials and the Savage River and Potomac-Garrett State Forest Advisory Committees, and a 30-day formal public comment period. Of the more than 1,400 comments received via mail, e-mail, fax, online and verbal testimony, 83 percent expressed opposition.
“We are very encouraged by the well-informed, passionate comments we received from citizens across the state, voicing concerns for the health and protection of our state forests, parks and natural resources while also noting the important role renewable energy resources have in our economy, environment, and individual lives,” said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin. “Moving forward, we are committed to enhancing our efforts to manage these public lands more sustainably.”
The decision to prohibit the placement of large-scale commercial and temporary exploratory wind power generation infrastructure applies exclusively to conservation lands held in fee-simple ownership by the state and managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The decision is not meant to guide or influence renewable energy development on other local, federal, or privately-owned land in Maryland.
“People of Western Maryland were unified in opposition to the use of state forests and park lands for development of industrial wind turbines,” said Delegate Wendell Beitzel. “We are very grateful for the public comment and review opportunity of this issue. I am extremely pleased that Governor O’Malley is here today in Garrett County to announce his decision not to permit wind power development on the mountain tops of Western Maryland.”
“The Commissioners and I truly appreciate the public coming out to comment on this project,” said Garrett County Commissioner Fred Holliday. “It is especially important to have a Governor that listens to what the public wants. Governor O’Malley did just that and for that, we are grateful.”
Earlier this week the Maryland General Assembly adopted the Governor’s legislative initiatives to address looming economic issues and climate change impacts by accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. Specifically, the EmPOWER Maryland legislation codifies one of the most ambitious energy efficiency goals in the nation that, once implemented will save Marylanders up to $5.7 billion (an average of $190 per household annually) and avoid at least three new power plants. The new Strategic Energy Investment Fund will provide short term rate relief and long term investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change programs. Additional measures will double the amount of renewable power purchased by Maryland’s utilities, make solar and geothermal energy systems affordable to more Marylanders, and require that all new state buildings and schools be energy efficient.
“We remain committed to becoming a more sustainable Maryland by increasing development and use of clean, renewable energy sources,” added Governor O’Malley. “Working together, we will implement innovative, sustainable solutions to address climate change and energy needs without destroying the resources that are already providing invaluable environmental, social and economic benefits.”
DNR hopes to consider small-scale, non-commercial renewable energy development in the future, where appropriate on state lands to help meet on-site energy needs and economic and environmental goals that move toward more sustainable operations.
Additional information about the public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources is available online at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/. Comments received regarding commercial wind power generation on public lands can be viewed online at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/sustainability/wpm/.
April 12, 2008
Contact: Olivia Campbell
410-260-8016 office I 410-507-7525 cell
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov