Fenwick Supports Bill Limiting Offshore Drilling

FENWICK ISLAND – Fenwick Island officials last week agreed to launch a fact-finding mission to determine the impact of proposed offshore wind turbines.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council introduced a discussion on proposed wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City.

Last year, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved two offshore wind energy projects off the coast of Ocean City. The approved US Wind project would place turbines as close as 17 miles from the shore in the first phase, while the approved Deepwater Wind project would place turbines 17-21 miles offshore.

Since then, Ocean City officials have waged a prolonged battle to have the wind turbines moved at least 26 miles off the coast, a proposed distance that resort leaders say would lessen visual impacts from the shoreline.

Officials in Fenwick Island last week noted the proximity of the proposed Deepwater Wind project, which would place turbines closer to the Maryland-Delaware line. Like their neighbors to the south, they expressed their concerns regarding the height and visibility of the turbines.

“If you look at where they are putting them in Maryland, it really is right at the Delaware-Maryland line, which is right where we are,” Councilwoman Julie Lee said. “It really impacts us more than Ocean City proper. I think it’s worth looking into.”

While she acknowledged the potential benefits of wind turbines, Lee argued that wind energy projects came with several unknowns.

“I don’t think we ought to give them a pass on this,” she said. “I think it’s something we need to stay on top of.”

The Fenwick Island Town Council last week also agreed to support a Senate bill in the Delaware General Assembly that would prohibit drilling for oil or natural gas in Delaware waters and preclude the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control from issuing any permits in connection with the development of offshore drilling infrastructure.

Senate Bill 200 states, “A large percentage of our tourism in Delaware is directly related to our beaches and coastal regions, therefore, it is of utmost importance that we take steps to keep our beaches and coastal regions pristine and protect the industry that they create within our state.”

In January, the Trump administration announced plans to open roughly 90 percent of the nation’s coastline to offshore drilling and exploration. Since then, coastal communities, state leaders and environmental advocates have come forth to oppose offshore drilling.

Mayor Gene Langan said Senate Bill 200 is similar to a New Jersey bill and would limit offshore drilling operations.

“We know they can drill if they want in government waters after three miles out, but this bill, like the New Jersey bill, does not allow for any of the oil to be shipped across Delaware waters,” he said. “It prevents permitting of anything that would harm Delaware’s waters. The reason we are bringing it up here today is we would like the town’s support to get this through.”

With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously to support the bill in the Delaware General Assembly.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.