State House News Service
---- — BOSTON — The two candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat have opposing positions on Cape Wind, with Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez arguing the offshore wind farm is not cost-competitive while U.S. Rep. Ed Markey says he has backed the energy project and sought to speed it along.
In response to written questions from the State Houser News Service, both candidates offered their plan for helping the state’s fishermen, who are faced with sharply reduced catch limits regulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Question: The Massachusetts fishing industry is in economic straits, as federal regulators say there has been a severe drop in the amount of cod and other fish, while the fishing fleet’s skippers and their advocates say the regulators are basing the catch-limit on faulty science. What should the federal government do, and what should it not do to address this situation?
Gomez: I stand with the Attorney General (Martha Coakley) for standing up for these fishermen and suing regulators in Washington D.C. who think they know or care more about the ocean than the fishermen who make their lives from it. I’ve sat with the fishermen in New Bedford and Gloucester. They described how their way of life is being threatened and drastic catch limits being imposed by NOAA will bankrupt a proud livelihood that has been a part of our coastal economy since before there was a Massachusetts. This program currently relies on flawed science and overreaching regulations that don’t account for the regional economic impact.
Local fishermen don’t want welfare, they want to be allowed to work.
Markey: Massachusetts fishermen and their families are hurting right now. I recently sat down with fishermen in Gloucester, and they told me how they need more help. I’ve heard that in New Bedford, on the Cape, and around the fishing communities of Massachusetts.
First of all, we need to give our fishermen economic assistance right now. The federal government declared our fishery an economic disaster. Yet when Congressmen Keating, Tierney and I offered three different proposals to Republicans to fund relief efforts, they wouldn’t even allow a vote on any of them.
We need to push NOAA and our other fisheries managers to give more flexibility to our fishermen. I successfully lobbied with other members of Congress to force NOAA to allow carryover of catch quotas from 2012 to 2013, and to pay for at-sea monitoring costs.
In the long-term, we need to ensure that the best science is being used, in collaboration with fishing communities. We need more frequent stock assessments. And we need to have a better understanding of what is changing in the ocean environment so we can better plan and help fishermen and their families.
Question: Do you support Cape Wind? What role should the federal government play in either speeding the project toward completion or taking other action?
Gomez: I support an “all the above” approach to finding renewable energy solutions to cut our dependence on foreign oil, but this program is a perfect example of what happens when government interferes with private sector growth and innovation without the support of the local community. Cape Wind has become a bureaucratic mess that does not deliver reliable energy at a competitive cost per kilowatt hour.
Markey: Yes, I absolutely support Cape Wind. It will herald the offshore wind revolution here in the United States, and as with many revolutions in America, it will start here in Massachusetts. Offshore wind energy will create a new generation of clean energy jobs and fight climate change, two important priorities for our economy and environment.
I pushed the Obama administration to speed up the process for Cape Wind, and they have responded with an aggressive program to develop this and other offshore wind energy. In fact, the first competitive lease sale for offshore wind will occur in just a couple months, offering areas off of Massachusetts and Rhode Island for even more vital wind development. The Obama administration took my suggestions for an auction process that speeds up development by considering multiple factors for lease sales, including whether companies have agreements to sell power and work with states to develop wind farms.
Question: If elected, you very well may have a chance to vote on the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice. What past or current Supreme Court justice is the paragon example of what a judge should be?
Gomez: Chief Justice John Roberts.
Markey: Justice Stephen Breyer, whose aggressive focus on substantive data as support for his decisions has been an enduring contribution to the Court.