Rep. Young Ignoring National Calls for Less Oil, More Clean Energy

WASHINGTON, DC (February 22, 2006) -- Representative Don Young, the Alaska Congressman who never met an oil rig he didn't like, is waging backroom warfare to block clean, renewable energy generated from off-shore wind farms. Young is working hard to force through an amendment this week that would scuttle wind power projects in vast regions of U.S. territorial waters by prohibiting such projects anywhere within 1.5 nautical miles of a shipping lane.

By contrast, oil and gas wells -- which have the potential spill or burn, posing a much greater threat to navigation and the environment -- are allowed within just 500 yards of shipping lanes.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Congressman is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow new natural gas drilling projects across hundreds of miles of now-protected coastal waters.

"It's a bizarre position to say the least," said NRDC legislative director Karen Wayland. "He seems to want to put oil wells off of every beach town in America, but is fighting tooth and nail to block wind energy technologies that use no fossil fuels at all."

Just yesterday, in remarks at the National Renewable Energy Lab outside of Denver, President Bush spoke about the potential for wind energy to meet as much as 20 percent of our electricity needs and the need to cut our dependence on foreign oil.

Young, whose efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling have failed time and again, is targeting the yearly authorization bill for the Coast Guard, which is expected to emerge from a joint House-Senate conference committee in the next several days.

The Congressman, who chairs the House Resources Committee, is reportedly threatening to block the 'must-pass' bill unless other lawmakers agree to his anti-wind amendment.

Lobbyists' Influence Game

Why would Congressman Young be so interested in wind power projects located nowhere near his state?

One answer might be that his longtime friend and former Alaska state environmental official Guy Martin, has been hired by a group of wealthy families trying to block a proposed wind farm several miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Martin works for the Washington firm Perkins Coie, one of several giant Washington lobbying firms hired by a coalition co-chaired by Bill Koch of the Koch oil and gas conglomerate, Doug Yearley, former CEO of Phelps Dodge, and other wealthy Cape Cod landholders. The group has spent close to a million dollars trying to influence lawmakers against the project.

Cape Wind Provides Clean Energy

The Cape Wind project would provide 420 megawatts of electricity from 130 emissions-free turbines. That is enough to supply 75 percent of power needed on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

By using clean energy instead of fossil fuel electricity generation, the Cape Wind project will eliminate approximately 360 tons of particulate matter, 2,400 tons of sulfur oxides, 800 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 1,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide for every year of operation. That will reduce respiratory problems and other pollution-related health effects, as well as reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming.