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Assembly votes to curtail commercial wind turbines

The General Assembly moved Saturday to curtail commercial wind turbines across much of the state to protect a 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. The House voted 114-11 later Saturday to give the measure final approval. Assembly action sends the bill to O'Malley — who opposes it and has not said if he will sign it into law.

Supporters said they feared a proposed Eastern Shore wind project could lead to cutbacks in operations at the base, an economic engine for the region. 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 wind developer had offered to turn the 25 turbines off whenever the Navy wanted to operate its radar, eliminating any potential for interference.

twheeler@baltsun.com

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