Sen. Harry Brown said Thursday he will try again next year to limit wind energy towers near military bases.
Brown’s Military Operations Protection Act appeared during the final two weeks of this year’s short session and was quickly passed by the Senate on a vote of 33 to 14, mostly along party lines. But the bill remained in the House until the end of session July 1 without that chamber taking it up.
Brown, a Republican from Jacksonville who is the majority leader in the Senate, promoted House Bill 763 as a way to make sure wind towers and other tall structures didn’t pose obstacles to military training flights. He emphasized the military’s strong presence in the state, while opponents contended the bill illustrated a resistance to alternate energy sources.
Two or three projects that are already in the works could be jeopardized if the bill becomes law, because they would be required to meet more stringent requirements.
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Brown issued a statement along with six Republican legislators and one Democrat (Sen. Ben Clark, who represents Cumberland and Hoke counties and voted for the bill). Like Clark, the Republicans who signed on represent districts with military bases: Senators Wesley Meredith of Cumberland County; Louis Pate, Wayne County; Norman Sanderson, Pamlico County; Representatives George Cleveland, Onslow County; Pat McElraft, Carteret County, and Phil Shepard, Onslow County.
“Make no mistake – if we fail to fully protect our military installations, decision-makers in Washington could award them to states that will, and our local communities will be left picking up the pieces. Three taxpayer subsidized wind projects that create few jobs for North Carolinians should not take priority over the hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars that we could jeopardize if we fail to stand up for our military.”