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Groups Say Wind Energy Losing Out Amidst Storm Over Oil

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

Virginia is poised to be the first new state to drill for oil and natural gas, and a coalition of environmental groups is launching protests and petitions to stop those plans. They argue that the potential for wind energy is being ignored.

Glen Besa heads the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club. He says despite Governor Bob McDonnell's promises to promote wind energy, funds for renewable research programs have been cut.

"The state of Virginia is falling behind adjoining states because we have no incentives for renewable energy," says Besa.

He points to Pennsylvania, also a coal producing state, but one that has invested more in wind.

"And there's four manufacturing plants by Gemesa, a Spanish firm that are located there, creating over a thousand jobs in the off shore wind industry," he says.

A report by the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium in March found that wind farms could generate 10,000 jobs, and could be cost competitive with coal plants if a wind industry were created in the commonwealth. Public funding for that research consortium was eliminated in the last budget.

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