Numerous Unanswered Questions About Wind
The following is the letter I have sent to the Public Service Commission about the proposal to expand the wind farms off our coast:
Dear Mr. Johnston and Commissioners,
I am an environmental professional working on the shore for over 30 years, and I have some questions and a couple comments for the commission.
I see that the big wind companies have not yet found a place to bring the power ashore. Citizens of lower Delaware have rejected plans to build the necessary infrastructure on their ocean front. A report from their Public Service Commission task force recommended that the State “explore the procurement of other renewable resources in lieu of offshore wind.” And here in Maryland, the Park Service has ruled that there will be no turbines in their viewshed, and no station will be built on Assateague Island. That leaves Ocean City. Will the State use the big stick of eminent domain to take private or municipal property for this use? Imagine that legal battle.
If the Commission doesn’t know where the power will come ashore, isn’t any ruling on wind farms putting the cart before the horse?
My company has done numerous tidal studies over the years. NOAA data clearly show that yearly global sea level rise is holding steady at 3 millimeters, about one-eighth of an inch. It’s a little more here on the Shore because the peninsula has been sinking since the last Ice Age. NOAA data are easily accessible on the web.
Is such a miniscule rise in sea levels enough to make us panic and put this industrial junk in the ocean? This will be a permanent blight on the natural world. Once done, we can’t go back.
Do we really want to put these giant machines in the middle of the Atlantic Migratory Flyway that is used by millions of birds every year? This is nuts. The vision of birds being sliced and diced and falling from the sky is sickening.
It’s true that burning coal spews particle pollutants. Wouldn’t our tax dollars be better spent converting the coal-fired plants to cleaner-burning natural gas?
How about using our tax money to plant more forests and marshes to sequester carbon?
Shouldn’t we be subsidizing more solar power and more energy conservation?
Why are we giving billions of our tax dollars to foreign companies?
If this boondoggle ever gets built, I know the mobs of true believers will stand on the beach and see these machines as spiritual icons, symbols of hope that if we stop sinning, we can avoid the Apocalypse.
Not me. Instead of an infinite, soul-expanding horizon, I’ll see a wall of rusting machinery.
And at night, all those blinking red lights will remind me that the follies of mankind never end.
Charter Not Followed With Bond Ordinance
(The following letter was addressed to the Ocean City Mayor and Council with a copy sent to this newspaper for publication.)
Section C-409 of the Town Charter of Ocean City, entitled “Passage of Ordinances” reads in part, “No ordinance shall be passed at the meeting at which it is introduced. At any regular or special meeting of the Mayor and City Council held not less than six (6) days nor more than sixty (60) days after the meeting at which an ordinance is introduced. it shall be passed, or passed as amended, or rejected, or its consideration deferred to some specified future date.”
I have watched the video of your Regular Session on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. When Ordinance 2021-19 was up for second reading, a motion was made “to adopt Ordinance 2021-19, not to exceed $48,945,000.” There was no mention of passing the ordinance “as amended” as required by the Town Charter.
I have also reviewed the actual signature page of Ordinance 2021-19 found on page 26 of the ordinance. There is no mention of the ordinance being finally “passed as amended”.
It is my opinion that Ordinance 2021-19 is an invalid ordinance because it was not passed by the proper procedure.
Considering the fact that the Town does not expect to go to the bond sale until around Thanksgiving, there is ample time to re-do the ordinance properly. It also gives the Mayor & City Council additional time to be more precise regarding the cost, design and location of the new firehouse. Furthermore, I believe that there should be a public hearing regarding the new firehouse so that the public can weigh in on the project.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Bill Gibbs Will Be Missed By Local Veterans Group
It was with great sorrow our Vietnam Veterans of America OC Chapter#1091 heard of the passing of our friend and supporter Bill Gibbs.
I met Bill for the first time a few years ago when we were planning a memorial for Barry Howard Berger, the only Ocean City native born to be killed in action in Vietnam. I was told he and Barry were best friends in school. We were a young organization and this was a large project for us to undertake.
Bill gave us his full support and contacted Barry’s school mates who attended the dedication. Bill also funded our yearly scholarship to Stephen Decatur High School. While Bill was not a veteran himself, he certainly was an outstanding supporter. He is the only honorary member of VVA1091. We will miss you.
(The writer is the president of the Ocean City Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #1091.)
Wind Farm Supporters Deserved More Coverage
As a resident of Ocean City who participated in the PSC wind hearings mentioned in your article, the article content stunned me. Far from split, the wind hearing testimony began with a handful of admittedly influential people, lamenting over possible viewshed alterations, who hundreds of residents, environmental groups, and trade associations supporting the project subsequently drowned out.
Unfortunately, the article precisely follows the reasoning of those voicing project opposition by separating results and reasoning. Project managers zoned the turbines at twelve to twenty-seven miles off the coast for very specific economic and scientific reasons, not as an attack on the Ocean City skyline. Project zoning considerations minimized migratory bird impacts inside ten miles and whales and shipping lanes impacted outside 28 miles.
Testimony against the wind project sounds exponentially less reasonable when compared to support rooted in science and climate modeling. Moving towards renewable energy transfers some burden from intense carbon emitting energy production with negative climate warming impacts exemplified in Ocean City flooding, inundation, and extreme weather impacts. The coastal community needs green energy normalization. Otherwise, coastal resilience proposals like those in Nassau, New York, become a possibility with million-dollar sea walls as one of few solutions for rising sea levels and flooding. An enormous cement wall around the beach creates far more issues with viewsheds than turbines miles off the coast.
Overall, most residents who understand the project’s importance for Ocean City and other coastal communities support it. Unfortunately, those who did not attend the hearings and only read the article may incorrectly assume parties for and against the project split evenly.
Vocal Minority Represented At Wind Farm Hearing
I read with interest your paper’s coverage of the Maryland Public Service Commission hearings on offshore wind last week. It suggested there was an equal or close to equal number of testifiers on both sides.
I was there for both. By my count over the two hearings, the number was 92 pro-wind and 17 anti-wind, with less than 10 of those opponents being non-elected citizens. You can watch for yourself on the Maryland Public Service Commission’s website.
This is important because it remains clear that a small minority of loud voices is drowning out the beliefs of the majority. In fact, many Eastern Shore residents, including residents of Ocean City, believe that offshore wind turbines are a positive for all of us in both the near and long term. The time to make change is now.
The fact that 84% of the 109 folks who took the time to testify in favor last week is just one manifestation of that.