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Clean Air Council and Environment Erie Host “Educational Forum: Discussing Offshore Wind in Lake Erie”

[March 14, 2012] Erie, PA- Over 80 citizens from Northwestern Pennsylvania came out to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) on Wednesday evening to discuss the prospect of offshore wind energy development in Lake Erie and what it could mean for the region both economically and environmentally. Clean Air Council, a nonprofit organization that works to improve air quality in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, teamed up with Environment Erie to host the event titled “Educational Forum: Discussing Offshore Wind in Lake Erie.” The purpose of the forum was to educate residents in the area about the possibilities of harnessing wind energy in the region, especially off of the shores of Lake Erie, and to engage in a constructive dialogue.

Jen Filiault, Coordinator for Civil Society Institute’s offshore wind program, based in Boston, was the evening’s keynote speaker. Currently focused on an initiative called Citizen Partnerships for Offshore Wind (CPOW), Filiault discussed the status of offshore wind development in America and shared her experiences as an activist during the public hearings for the Cape Wind offshore wind project in Massachusetts. Cape Wind is still slated to be the nation’s first installed offshore wind farm.

To bring the issue closer to home, three local panelists followed with presentations that focused on the region’s workforce and green infrastructure, potential jobs and the environmental impact. The panel included Amara Geffen, Director of the Arts & Environment Initiative at Allegheny College’s Center for Environmental and Economic Development (CEED); Tim Ryan, President of APEX Offshore Wind; and Tom Fuhrman, Executive Director of the Lake Erie Regional Conservancy (LERC).

The status of offshore wind development in Lake Erie is subject to more than just public opinion. Bi-partisan legislation sponsored by Pennsylvania State Rep. Jon Hornaman (PA – Dist 3) and Rep. Curt Sonney exists in the State House currently that would allow for the leasing of the floor of Lake Erie for offshore wind development as current zoning would not allow for a utility-sized project to be built.

CONTACT: Katie Feeney, Clean Air Council, 814-450-5237, kfeeney@cleanair.org
Matthew Pluta, Environment Erie, 814-835-8069 Ext 104, mpluta@environmenterie.org

For more information on Clean Air Council: www.cleanair.org