Salazar pushes for wind energy
Mar 9, 2009 - Dina Cappiello and
J.Josef Hebert - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON—Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
said Monday that the waters off the Atlantic coast
hold some of the country's greatest wind energy potential,
and he promised to move aggressively to develop plans
to exploit the resource.
In an interview with The Associated
Press, Salazar called for the creation of "renewable
energy zones" to smooth development of offshore wind
projects and to spur solar energy in the Southwest
and onshore wind energy in the Great Plains.
"The scientists tell me that when you
look at the wind energy potential off the Atlantic
it may be greater than we have onshore," Salazar said.
"But what we don't have in place at this point is
the rules to move forward with energy offshore."
Salazar said that states like New Jersey
and Delaware are "raring to go" with wind energy projects.
But he acknowledged that officials in other coastal
states, such as Massachusetts, are divided.
A $1 billion project to erect 130 giant
wind turbines off Cape Cod has long been opposed by
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who has argued it
would kill birds, endanger sea life and imperil the
area's tourism and fishing industries. The state's
Democratic governor, Deval Patrick supports it.
Salazar on Monday said the project "makes
"From what I know of the Cape Cod wind
project it is a good project," he said.
The standoff in Massachusetts could
play out across the country as Salazar seeks to expand
renewable electricity production and the transmission
lines to carry it on public lands. Both are needed,
he said, to curb the nation's dependence on foreign
oil and deal with the heat-trapping emissions from
the burning of fossil fuels that are linked to global
When asked about opposition, Salazar
said it was imperative that "we get this thing done
and not get stuck in a not-in-my-backyard syndrome."
He also said it is a "false choice" to pit aggressive
development of renewable energy against the protection
of the country's wildlife and treasured landscapes.
On other subjects, Salazar said he wants
—Review objections to oil and gas leasing
in Alaska's Bristol Bay and the Chukchi Sea, where
environmentalists argue that the threat to fisheries
and polar bears has not been adequately examined,
and off Virginia, where the governor has raised concerns.
—Take another look at a Bush administration
regulation allowing loaded firearms in national parks.
He said the Justice Department is defending the agency's
rule-making process. Salazar said while the department
believes the legal process was followed correctly,
"it's important to take a look at the environment
and public safety aspects" of allowing firearms in
— Resolve a 12-year-old Indian trust
lawsuit in which the government is accused of swindling
Native Americans of billions of dollars in royalty
payments for natural resources and grazing access.
Salazar called the case "a blemish on
the United States and the Department of Interior."
Salazar said that on many issues involving the Interior
Department, the Bush administration took short cuts
that didn't fully account for science. He said the
presidential memorandum signed Monday by President
Barack Obama would help to restore science at the
department on issues ranging from climate and energy
to endangered species.
"What needs to happen is that decision-making
has got to be made with the best of science and the
best of the facts on the table," he said.
Obama has already put on hold a Bush
administration decision limiting the input of federal
scientists in deciding whether a project can harm
endangered species. The Interior Department has scrapped
plans for leases to test out oil shale development
on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
Salazar said Monday that the Bush administration
put the "cart before the horse" when it came to oil
shale, and that difficult scientific questions had
not yet been answered.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly
and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
On the Net: Interior Department: http://www.doi.gov