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Coalition urges Congress to support wind farms

WASHINGTON -- Backers of the proposed wind farm off Cape Cod are trying to generate some energy of their own on Capitol Hill, scrambling to persuade lawmakers to kill an amendment that could doom the project.

An alliance of 55 energy, labor, and environmental groups is sending a letter urging Congress to oppose the measure.

''There's a heavy, heavy grass-roots component," said Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind Associates, developer of the project. ''It's happening on a nationwide basis."

The coalition, which announced the letter at a Washington news conference yesterday, said ''backroom" politicking is behind an amendment that was tucked into a larger $8.7 billion Coast Guard spending bill with no formal votes or hearings.

Cape Wind has contended that the amendment was included in the Coast Guard bill without public hearings or public debate.

Wind farm supporters hope to block the bill when it comes to a vote, as early as next week in Congress, after lawmakers return from their spring recess.

Project opponents defended the amendment, which hands veto power over the project to Governor Mitt Romney.

''A decision that is going to materially effect the Cape and the Islands should be made in Massachusetts," said Ernie Corrigan, a spokesman for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a leading group opposed to the wind farm.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, has voiced concern about the amendment.

''Although our options for fighting this may be limited because the Coast Guard legislation is so critical to our nation's security, I am working with colleagues to explore those options," Lieberman said in a statement yesterday.

Two senators who are leading voices on energy issues also expressed concern.

Pete V. Domenici, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman and Republican of New Mexico, and the panel's senior Democrat, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, have issued statements recently about the amendment.

Because the Coast Guard bill has been approved by a House-Senate conference committee, it would be difficult to change the amendment or eliminate it from the overall bill.

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