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Senators denounce bid to block wind farm

Reassert need for renewable energy

The US Senate's leading voices on energy yesterday blasted their colleagues' attempt to block a wind farm off Cape Cod, saying the effort would contradict the commitment to expanding renewable energy that Congress built into last year's Energy Policy Act.

The chairman of the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Pete V. Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, and the committee's ranking Democrat, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, both spoke out against an amendment that could kill the wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound. A decision was expected yesterday -- but was apparently delayed -- by members of a conference committee.

''It would be folly for us in Congress to talk about breaking our addiction to foreign oil and, at the same time, pass laws that stymie our own production of clean and renewable energies here at home," Domenici said in a statement. ''We can't have it both ways."

Bingaman said in his statement that if a ''special-interest provision" succeeded, ''it would make a mockery not only of all the statements in Congress about the need to strengthen America's domestic energy security, but also our statements advocating lobbying reform in Washington."

The amendment would give the Massachusetts governor the right to veto the wind farm proposed in Nantucket Sound -- an act that would ostensibly kill the plan by Cape Wind Associates, which Governor Mitt Romney opposes. Cape Wind wants to build 130 energy-producing wind turbines off the coast of the Cape and Islands but in federal water, leaving the state little power to block its approval under existing law.

The statements were made amid a feverish lobbying campaign over the amendment.

Cape Wind supporters said their understanding was that all the House members on the conference committee support the language giving the governor veto rights and the Senate members are narrowly divided, with US Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat who is an outspoken proponent of renewable energy, considered the swing vote.

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at ebbert@globe.com.

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