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UPDATED: Va., Md. sign off-shore wind energy agreement

Rosalind Helderman

Oil drilling on the outer continental shelf off Virginia's coast may be dead, at least for the moment, but plans are moving ahead for offshore windmills.

Virginia is one of 10 Atlantic states that today signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Interior to form a consortium to promote the development of wind energy off the Atlantic coastline, in an agreement that brings together governors who have both supported and opposed the Obama administration's decision to halt future oil drilling.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the agreement Tuesday, along with a new Virginia-based regional renewable energy office to coordinate efforts along the Atlantic coast. The MOU calls for an action plan to be developed to help guide state-federal coordination over commercial wind projects proposed offshore.

Other states that have signed the MOU are: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina.

The new consortium is separate from the Governors' Wind Energy Coalition, an organization from which Gov. Bob McDonnell withdrew after the group distributed a letter calling for a national renewable electricity standard that included his name without his permission.

"I am very pleased to be joining with the governors of Atlantic coastal states to promote the safe and environmentally responsible development of the exceptional wind energy resources off our coasts," Salazar said in a statement. "Appropriate development of Outer Continental Shelf wind power will enhance regional and national energy security and create American jobs through the development of energy markets and investments in renewable energy technologies."

We just received a statement praising the agreement from Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and are expecting something similar from McDonnell shortly.

UPDATE 3:33 p.m.: In a statement, McDonnell said: "It's no secret that we need to develop more domestic energy. It's a matter of national and economic security and it will create much needed jobs and opportunities for Virginians. I have long advocated an 'all of the above' approach to our energy needs. It's imperative that we develop all of our domestic energy sources including wind, solar, biomass, nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas." He called the agreement a "major step forward" and said Salazar's decision to locate the regional renewable energy office in Virginia is a "estament to Virginia's pro-energy, pro-business climate."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  June 8, 2010; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Environment, Oil and Gas, wind energy  
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