The Senate moved Saturday to curtail commercial wind turbines across much of the state to protect a prized naval air station in southern Maryland, brushing aside arguments the curb would kill a $200 million energy project on the Eastern Shore.
By a vote of 31-16, senators approved a 13-month moratorium on tall turbines within 56 miles of Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Supporters said they feared a proposed Eastern Shore project could lead to cutbacks in operations at the base, the region’s economic engine. They argued a delay was needed to finish a study of whether such projects could operate without interfering with the station’s radar.
Opponents argued in vain that the delay was unnecessary because state and federal law both give the Navy the power to stop such projects if they would impair operations at the base.
The measure already had cleared the House earlier, but now goes back to address a minor amendment added by the Senate.
The politically charged issue pitted one region against another - and much of Maryland’s congressional delegation against Gov. Martin O’Malley, who opposed the moratorium as unnecessary and damaging to the state’s efforts to promote wind energy development.