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Great Lakes Offshore Wind

Offshore Wind Development on the Great Lakes Moves Forward

By Sam Schrader   

Last week it was announced the Obama administration and five states have finally come to terms to speed up the approval of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes. This is a project that's been hampered for awhile due to cost concerns and some public opposition. Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania all signed the agreement.

The structure of the deal is that both state and federal agencies will work together to speed up regulatory review of the wind farms but without cutting corners on environmental and safety standards. These would be the first wind farms in the Great Lakes, however Cleveland stated last year it wants to build five to seven turbines in Lake Erie as part of a demonstration project.

While all of this sounds positive, there are critics.

Some claim the wind farms would ruin views, lower shoreline property value and harm wildlife. Of all of those issues, it’s the last one that has caused the most trouble. Due to fears of killing animals, New York abandoned building 200 turbines and placing them in lakes Erie and Ontario. The Canadian government paused all wind energy development in its portion of the Great Lakes because of the same concerns.

However, supporters aren’t going down without a fight, viewing the lakes’ winds as a natural choice for renewable energy that has yet to be tapped. Not to mention, there is little data to support the claim that these farms would have a significant negative impact on wildlife in the area.

“This agreement among federal agencies and Great Lakes states is a smart, practical way to encourage the development of homegrown energy that will create jobs, power homes and reduce pollution in American communities,” Nancy Sutley, the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality stated.

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