By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick today signed the nation’s first comprehensive ocean planning law to guide where pipelines should be laid, areas should be protected, and energy projects built.
A 17-member advisory commission will help the state craft a management plan by the end of 2009, and all development within three miles of the state's coastline will have to abide by its rules. The law is designed to help reduce tensions among maritime users and guide energy development, and also could impose stricter safety measures to help prevent accidents such as the 2003 oil spill in Buzzards Bay.
“If we neglect or abuse our ocean resources we do so at our peril,” said Patrick, as he stood outside the New England Aquarium yesterday morning before signing the Oceans Act. “This law will help protect our vital natural resources and balance traditional with new ones, such as renewable energy, that are also important to our future.”
Public attention in New England in recent years has been riveted on a 130-turbine wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound. But there's increasing demand for the state's offshore resources, with a variety of lower-profile proposals that collectively could have far more impact on the region, environmentalists and state officials say.
The plan will not affect the Nantucket wind farm, nor the new liquified natural gas port off Gloucester, both of which are in federal waters.
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