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Senator Downing Tables WESRA

December 15, 2011

At an energy forum in Great Barrington on December 14th, Senator Ben Downing announced that he is tabling the controversial wind siting bill. The surprise announcement came a little over a week after Senate President Therese Murray changed her position  on the bill. She said she was persuaded by her constituents, who have testified to the adverse impacts of wind turbines  on health as well as property values.

According to Patrick Cassidy’s Cape Cod Times article on December 6, 2011, Senator Murray told the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, “I think wind power has to be part of the solution for our energy fixes, but I don’t believe losing local control is the way to go so I would have to support my towns who don’t support the siting bill.”

Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts applauds this change of view, and welcomes Senator Downing’s intention to send the bill to study. All three bills filed to streamline the siting of industrial scale wind turbines were filed as “emergency” legislation, which would have allowed them to go into effect as soon as they were signed by the governor.

As co-chair, with Representative John D. Keenan, of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, Downing has encountered a barrage of environmentalists, municipal officials, and anti-industrial-wind activists at two hearings and many other public meetings. WESRA opponents have emphasized that communities need local control over wind siting decisions because of the array of potential impacts to human health, wildlife, water supplies, and scenic vistas.

This is what he heard from people opposing WESRA and industrial wind turbines.

  • The desire for local control
  • Frustrations with corporate subsidies
  • Lack of local benefit
  • Concern about replacing existing environmental law
  • Standards should be developed first
  • Impact of overdevelopment of wind energy on tourism
  • Impact on real estate
  • More focus on conservation and efficiency
  • More support for solar

He also told the crowd of 75 people at the Berkshire South Regional Community Center that he had watched the movie Windfall and had talked with Dr. Ben Luce, about why wind energy is not viable on the ridgelines of the northeast.

Thanks to the folks at Preserve Lenox Mountain for capturing this video from the Energy Forum at the Berkshire South Community Center in Great Barrington.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2011 11:34 am

    WooooooooHoo! Thank you to everyone from the Cape to the Berkshires and every corner of the commonwealth who worked so hard to help this happen. Thanks also to Senator Ben Downing for not only listening to our concerns but also hearing them and standing up with us on the shelving of WESRA.

    Please remember that it is not completely in the bag yet. Write to John Keenan, the house’s chair on TUE, and ask him to follow Ben and Therese’s lead on this. Letters to the other members of the TUE would also be a good idea.

    The video of Ben’s announcement may be viewed on or on our facebook page

    The full video of the forum will be available later today.

  2. janet Sinclair permalink
    December 15, 2011 3:48 am

    Great news, and great work by so many people. Thank you all.


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