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Afternoon Read: Off-Shore Energy Programs Move Forward in MD, VA

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    NEWSLETTERS

    President Barack Obama's administration announced Thursday that it would go forward with plans to issue renewable energy leases for off-shore wind programs in the Mid-Atlantic after a study concluded that offshore wind farms would not cause major environmental damage there.

    Dominion Virginia Power told The Associated Press that it is interested in building up to 400 wind turbines in waters about 20 miles off Virginia Beach. The 2,000 megawatts the turbines would generate enough power for 500,000 households.

    "If everything aligns and it makes good sense and we have our regulators on board, yes, we would be moving forward on a wind farm," senior vice president Mary Doswell told the AP.

    Virginia Business said the news was happily welcomed in the state:

    "Cost-effective development of Virginia’s offshore wind resources is one important component of our overall effort to make Virginia ‘The Energy Capital of the East Coast,’" said Gov. Bob McDonnell. “America must continue to generate electricity from traditional sources such as coal, nuclear and natural gas, while moving forward in pursuit of innovative alternative sources like wind, solar and biomass.

    Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is also running for a U.S. Senate seat, issued this statement regarding today’s announcement:

    “There is currently a worldwide race for the clean energy jobs of the 21st century, and I want those jobs here in America and in Virginia. If we commit to developing our workforce and infrastructure, we can secure our share of the $2.3 trillion global market for clean energy."

    In Maryland, The Baltimore Sun reported that advocates and industry officials predict it may still be another five years before a wind project off Maryland's shore would be ready to begin construction, assuming it can line up the necessary financing.

    And like Gov. McDonnell, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley similarly welcomed the news, saying the announcement is a big deal because it has mapped out areas off the coast that the federal government believes can be relatively quickly opened up for wind energy projects without causing environmental harm

    According to the Sun, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he expected the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to start soliciting bids from interested developers within the next several months and expected to issue leases by the end of the year for up to 80,000 acres of Outer Continental Shelf off Ocean City.

    * A bill to defund state-funded abortions for low-income women in Virginia expecting a child with “gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency” advanced today and will likely pass in the House of Delegates Friday.

    The bill would repeal a section of state code which authorizes the Board of Heal the fund these types of abortions for women who meet the financial requirements and medical assistance, The Richmond Times Dispatch reported.

    Another abortion bill that would have prohibited women from having an abortion beyond 20 weeks failed to make it through the Senate Education and Health Committee.

    * The House today voted to strike down a law dubbed the “Kings Dominion Law” that prohibited schools from starting before Labor Day.

    Led by Kings Dominion, the original law was pushed through by industry lobbyists who were trying to support a late tourism season.

    But the Virginia Public Access Project has an interesting graph up today that shows that lobbyists stopped giving campaign donations years ago, raising the question why people trying to repeal this law in years past have been unsuccessful.

    Check out the graph, which shows that lobbyists stopped making donations in 2007, here.

    * The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis wrote today about how the conservative bills passing through the legislature, including the passing of a bill that would require a woman to get an ultrasound before getting an abortion, may impact Gov. McDonnell’s vice-president nomination chances.

    Many conservative commentators place McDonnell at the top of Mitt Romney's veep list -- he would presumably assure getting Virginia back in the red column, and reassure social conservatives still anxious about the formerly pro-choice Mormon at the top of the ticket. Not to mention that, as I realized while watching him stump with Romney in South Carolina, McDonnell is so bland and square (with a hair part so wide and frozen that you could drive a truck down it) that he makes Romney look almost edgy by comparison.

    But keep an eye on this legislation coming out of Richmond with McDonnell's name on it. For a Republican presidential nominee making his summer pivot to the center, it might end up carrying just a little too much whiff of Ole Virginny.

    * Here’s a fun, educational audio clip that’s worth a listen: The National Archives unveiled the Magna Carter on Thursday after a restoration project removed old patches and repaired some of the document's weak patches.

    The conservation project was made possible by a $13.5 million gift from David Rubenstein, who purchased the 715-year-old document in 2007 for $21.3 million.

    At the unveiling Rubenstein, who Washington City Paper lovingly referred to as a ‘huge nerd," chimed in and showed off his knowledge of the English declaration of human rights.