The Dernogalizer

November 11, 2010

MD Offshore Wind now at Request for Interest Stage

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:54 am
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See the exciting press release below, and check out the MD Department of Natural Resources website about the entire stakeholder process to this point.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 8, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Energy Administration today joined the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in announcing a significant step forward in bringing offshore wind power generation to Maryland’s coast. The federal government, which controls the Outer Continental Shelf, has accepted the planning recommendations of the Maryland Offshore Wind Task Force and today issued both a Request for Interest (RFI) and a map of an offshore wind leasing area in federal waters adjacent to Maryland’s Atlantic Coast.  Today’s announcement makes Maryland only the second state in the nation to reach this point in the process.

“Today’s announcement marks another step forward for Maryland’s new economy,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “By harnessing the outstanding wind resources off of Maryland’s coast, we can create thousands of green collar jobs, reduce harmful air pollution, and bring much needed, additional clean energy to Maryland.” (more…)

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November 1, 2010

My Op-Ed: Wind energy: A matter of priorities

Filed under: Dernoga,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:21 am
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I have a column out today in the Diamondback about what needs to be done for Maryland to get offshore wind turbines off its coast.  Enjoy!

Wind energy: A matter of priorities

By Matt Dernoga

There’s a growing buzz in the state over the enormous potential for offshore wind development off our coast. In early October, Gov. Martin O’Malley  held a rally with the United Steelworkers to tout the 4,000 manufacturing jobs and 800 permanent jobs that could be created from a 1,000 megawatt wind farm off our coasts. Google recently joined a partnership to build a $5 billion network of transmission lines along the East Coast. In 10 years, this system will allow mid-Atlantic states to share wind energy when one area of the coast is windy and the other isn’t.

Environmental groups have held town hall meetings around the state with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Energy Administration to inform citizens about offshore wind. At one I attended, they were been joined by NRG Bluewater Wind, a wind energy developer poised to build a 200 megawatt wind farm off the coast of Delaware. Many questions and concerns about offshore wind were answered.

How much wind potential exists off our coast? Enough to meet 67 percent of the state’s electricity needs. What’s the cost? Although offshore wind is a little more expensive than prices in the current state market, you’re locked in to paying for it at the same rate for 25 years because the wind isn’t getting more expensive. Given the volatility of our electricity prices in recent years, this should be a welcome development and will most likely save money in the end. What about birds, fish and the view? The state government has partnered with conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy and fishermen to map out the ocean and rule out areas that are sensitive to migratory birds and watermen. The areas that are being considered happen to be more than 10 miles off the coast.

The state is sorely lacking one thing: a firm commitment from government to be not just a partner with the offshore wind developers but also a customer. A reason Delaware is ahead of Maryland on offshore wind is because it approved a 200 megawatt Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Delmarva Power and NRG Bluewater Wind. Wind energy companies need a guaranteed buyer in line before they are willing to risk a major upfront investment into energy infrastructure. Otherwise it’s like buying a house and taking on a mortgage when you don’t have a job.

O’Malley knows this. In July, he co-authored a letter with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell to President Barack Obama asking for the federal government to enter into a PPA for 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind. The letter said this state has already committed to 55 megawatts, alongside Delaware’s 200. What O’Malley glossed over is that the PPA in this state is actually with this university and NRG Bluewater Wind, and it’s for the Delaware project! What a small world in a big ocean.

There are a lot of state government buildings in Annapolis. If we are asking the federal government to commit its buildings to a PPA, why can’t we do it here? We need a significant enough draw for a developer such as NRG Bluewater Wind, which is interested in building a 600 megawatt wind farm off the state’s coast. If the state wants to be on the forefront of the emerging clean energy economy, a PPA for offshore wind needs to be a priority for the newly elected governor and legislature in 2011.

Matt Dernoga is a graduate student in public policy. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com

 

October 27, 2010

My Offshore Wind Question for Governor O’Malley, and Candidate Ehrlich

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 8:28 pm
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I’m very pleased that the College Park Patch’s interview with Governor O’Malley started off by asking my question “Do you support offshore wind, and if so what will you do to make it a reality over these next four years”. Not only did Governor O’Malley answer the question in support of offshore wind and list steps he has taken, but he proceeded to discuss clean energy and energy efficiency policy for a full six minutes!  This is pretty good for an election where the the environment and clean energy policy has scarcely come up in debates or the media.  For more background on why O’Malley should be re-elected Governor, see my op-ed in the Diamondback from a few weeks ago.  On an even more positive note, the question after mine was about the Purple Line Light Rail.

Interestingly, my offshore wind question also was asked by the Patch to Ehrlich, although in a slightly different format.  He somehow starts at offshore wind and ends at drilling for oil in ANWAR.  See the video at the 2:25 mark…

 

September 30, 2010

Offshore Wind and Maryland

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:24 pm
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I’m real excited about the possibility of and offshore wind project happening in Maryland, now that Cape Wind is a go in Massachusetts.  A number of state environmental groups organzied a town hall in Ocean City last week about the offshore wind proposal on the table, and the steps the Maryland government is taking to moving the ball forward.  Below is a cross-post from CCAN’s Tom about the event and the potential for offshore wind. (more…)

September 24, 2010

World’s Largest Wind Farm Opens off UK Coast

Filed under: energy — Matt Dernoga @ 11:22 am
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Spanning a site as large as 4,000 football fields, England has gotten the world’s largest wind farm spinning.  The farm can power up to 200,000 homes, and produce 300 MW of electricity and operate for 25+ years.  See the AP article for more.

Photo by: AP/Gareth Fuller/PA

July 27, 2010

Md., Del. ask feds to join wind energy pact, I say give us a strong RES too

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 12:12 am
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At the end of last week, Governor O’Malley of my state Maryland and the Delaware Governor Markell called for the Federal government to join them in offering to purchase offshore wind energy.  The rationale is pretty clear, a greater show of interest in purchasing the wind power from an entity as large as the feds means guaranteed demand for the wind energy developers, which means $$$.  This quote below from the article says it best

“By combining our market power with that of the federal government, we can drive demand for over one GW of offshore wind energy in the mid-Atlantic,” the governors wrote. “This would create the economies of scale necessary to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind development, attract manufacturers of offshore wind equipment and installation vessels, and develop high paying green jobs for our workers.”

Delaware officials already have authorized utilities to enter into long-term contracts for 230 megawatts of electricity from a planned wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth and Maryland has offered to buy 55 megawatts from the proposed 450 million watt project.

But the governors contend that a commitment to purchase one gigawatt of wind energy could be the catalyst for creation of a manufacturing base and supply chain that could bring up to 20,000 jobs to the region.

“If all we have is a wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth with parts that are made overseas, I think it will be a missed opportunity,” Markell told The Associated Press.

I question I have is, are the any policies other states, or the federal government itself should be pushing in improve the economic climate for offshore wind off the East Coast?  The article mentions a few actions

“In addition to soliciting federal participation in a power purchase agreement, O’Malley and Markell also called for better coordination among federal agencies on offshore wind issues and asked Obama to support legislative efforts to remove barriers to wind energy development. Among the goals they cited are increasing loan guarantees, extending production tax credits, streamlining the permitting process and allowing the General Services Administration to enter into power purchase agreements beyond 10 years.”

I like the loan guarantees and tax credits, and I wrote a column this past January about the need to streamline the permitting process for wind.

But what about activists in other states along the coast getting their states to make commitments to purchase wind power from an offshore farm?  What about the impact of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) to increase demand for wind energy, and help make this offshore project more viable?  Right now, there’s a debate amongst Democrats in the US Senate on whether a renewable energy standard should be in the energy bill, now that climate legislation is out.  The debate can’t be able the abstract concept of an RES, it has to be able potential clean energy projects such as this one that need a shot in the arm from Congress.  Projects that are in the states of swing Senators are even better.

There’s a lot more we should be doing, and the Federal Government has already failed to place a price on carbon to make projects such as offshore wind more viable, but it’s good to see effort on the part of MD and DE to try and create demand for these wind products.

April 28, 2010

Interior secretary approves Cape Wind, nation’s first offshore wind farm

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:22 pm
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Finally some good news on clean energy!  As we’ve recently been reminded, offshore drilling is a bad idea for the environment.  Offshore wind is the way to go.  It was announced today by the Interior Secretary that he would approve the “controversial” Cape Wind project off the coast of Cape Cod.  I quote controversial since the opponents never struck me as being very credible in their arguments.

This decision should have a great impact on prospects for Maryland’s offshore possibilities.  Notable excerpts below!  Below this is the press release from the US Dept. of Interior.

“In a groundbreaking decision that some say will usher in a new era of clean energy, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today he had approved the nation’s first offshore wind farm, the controversial Cape Wind project off of Cape Cod.”

“This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast,” Salazar said at a joint State House news conference with Governor Deval Patrick. The decision comes after nine years of battles over the proposal.”

“Senator John F. Kerry said he was convinced any concerns have been dealt with during the nine years it has taken to issue a permit for the project.  I believe the future of wind power in the Massachusetts and the United States will be stronger knowing that the process was exhaustive, and that it was allowed to work and wind its way through the vetting at all levels with public input,” said Kerry in a statement. “This is jobs and clean energy for Massachusetts.”

“Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, an organization that opposes Cape Wind, said the group would move quickly to seek a court injunction to prevent construction from beginning. “We will win in the courts based on facts, not politics,” she said, arguing that the project would violate historic preservation and environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act.

But one legal expert said it was very unlikely that the project’s foes could obtain a federal injunction. At best, said Pat Parenteau, who teaches at Vermont Law School, they might be able to file a suit that delays completion for a couple of years.

“It would be very difficult to get an injunction to stop a project that’s been through nine years of review by the state and by the federal government,” he said. “People have been poring over this project with a fine-tooth comb for so long that my litigator’s instincts tell me it’s going to be very hard to find a fatal flaw in what they’ve done.”

“Salazar said the project would create 1,000 construction jobs and produce energy equivalent to that of a medium-sized coal-fired power plant. He said it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 175,000 cars.

Cape Wind Associates has said the wind farm could produce enough wind power to handle three-quarters of the electric needs of the Cape and Islands. The price of its electricity is expected to be higher than power from coal and gas. The company is still in negotiations with National Grid, the utility, that has agreed to purchase some of the power the facility produces.”

But George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, hailed the decision, saying it was “a critical step toward ending our reliance on foreign oil and achieving energy independence. ”  “Those who continue to resist and litigate are simply on the wrong side of history,” he said.

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Contact: Kendra Barkoff, DOI (202) 208-6416
Leann Bullin, MMS (703) 787-1755

Secretary Salazar Announces Approval of Cape Wind Energy Project on Outer Continental Shelf off Massachusetts

BOSTON, Mass – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today approved the Cape Wind renewable energy project on federal submerged lands in Nantucket Sound, but will require the developer of the $1 billion wind farm to agree to additional binding measures to minimize the potential adverse impacts of construction and operation of the facility.

“After careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location,” Salazar said in an announcement at the State House in Boston. “With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”

The Cape Wind project would be the first wind farm on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, generating enough power to meet 75 percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island combined. The project would create several hundred construction jobs and be one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the nation, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually. That is equivalent to removing 175,000 cars from the road for a year.

A number of similar projects have been proposed for other northeast coastal states, positioning the region to tap 1 million megawatts of offshore Atlantic wind energy potential, which could create thousands of manufacturing, construction and operations jobs and displace older, inefficient fossil-fueled generating plants, helping significantly to combat climate change.

Salazar emphasized that the Department has taken extraordinary steps to fully evaluate Cape Wind’s potential impacts on traditional cultural resources and historic properties, including government-to-government consultations with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and that he was “mindful of our unique relationship with the Tribes and carefully considered their views and concerns.”

Because of concerns expressed during the consultations, Interior has required the developer to change the design and configuration of the wind turbine farm to diminish the visual effects of the project and to conduct additional seabed surveys to ensure that any submerged archaeological resources are protected prior to bottom disturbing activities.

Under these revisions, the number of turbines has been reduced from 170 to 130, eliminating turbines to reduce the visual impacts from the Kennedy Compound National Historic Landmark; reconfiguring the array to move it farther away from Nantucket Island; and reducing its breadth to mitigate visibility from the Nantucket Historic District. Regarding possible seabed cultural and historic resources, a Chance Finds Clause in the lease requires the developer to halt operations and notify Interior of any unanticipated archaeological find.

Salazar said he understood and respected the views of the Tribes and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, but noted that as Secretary of the Interior, he must balance broad, national public interest priorities in his decisions. “The need to preserve the environmental resources and rich cultural heritage of Nantucket Sound must be weighed in the balance with the importance of developing new renewable energy sources and strengthening our Nation’s energy security while battling climate change and creating jobs,” Salazar said.

“After almost a decade of exhaustive study and analyses, I believe that this undertaking can be developed responsibly and with consideration to the historic and cultural resources in the project area,” Salazar said. “Impacts to the historic properties can and will be minimized and mitigated and we will ensure that cultural resources will not be harmed or destroyed during the construction, maintenance, and decommissioning of the project.”

He pointed out that Nantucket Sound and its environs are a working landscape with many historical and modern uses and changing technologies. These include significant commercial, recreational and other resource-intensive activities, such as fishing, aviation, marine transport and boating, which have daily visual and physical impacts, and have long coexisted with the cultural and historic attributes of the area and its people.

A number of tall structures, including broadcast towers, cellular base station towers, local public safety communications towers and towers for industrial and business uses are located around the area. Three submarine transmission cable systems already traverse the seabed to connect mainland energy sources to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. Visual and physical impacts associated with Nantucket Sound and its associated shorelines abound; it is not an untouched landscape.

Salazar disagreed with the Advisory Council’s conclusion that visual impacts from the proposed wind farm, which will be situated between and at substantial distance from Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard, provide a rationale for rejecting the siting of the project. The viewshed effects are not direct or destructive to onshore traditional cultural properties. In no case does the turbine array dominate the viewshed. The project site is about 5.2 miles from the mainland shoreline, 13.8 miles from Nantucket Island and 9 miles from Martha’s Vineyard.

Nevertheless, Interior has required the developer to reduce the number of turbines and reconfigure the array to diminish its visual effects. Moreover, the developer will be required to paint the turbines off-white to reduce contrast with the sea and sky yet remain visible to birds.

No daytime Federal Aviation Administration lighting will be on the turbines, unless the U.S. Coast Guard requires some “day beacons” to ensure navigation safety. FAA nighttime lighting requirements have been reduced, lessening potential nighttime visual impacts. The upland cable transmission route was located entirely below ground within paved roads and existing utility rights of way to avoid visual impacts and potential impacts to unidentified archeological or historic resources.

These mitigation measures, coupled with the overall distance from which the turbine array will be viewed at any location, will reduce the visual impacts of the project. Lease terms also require the developer to decommission the facility when the project has completed its useful service life, deconstructing the turbines and towers and removing them from the site.

The Secretary also disagreed that it is not possible to mitigate the impacts associated with installation of piers for wind turbines in the seabed, noting that piers for bridges, transmission lines and other purposes are routinely built in relatively shallow waters consistent with those found in Horseshoe Shoals. A number of marine archaeological studies have indicated that there is low probability that the project area contains submerged archaeological resources. Most of the area has been extensively reworked and disturbed by marine activities and geological processes.

Nonetheless, Interior will require additional and detailed marine archaeological surveys and other protective measures in the project area. A full suite of remote sensing tools will be used to ensure seafloor coverage out to 1000 feet beyond the Area of Potential Effect. More predictive modeling and settlement pattern analyses also will be conducted as well as geotechnical coring and analyses to aid in the identification of intact landforms that could contain archaeological materials. Moreover, the Chance Finds Clause in the lease will not only halt operations if cultural resources or indicators suggesting the possibility of cultural habitation are found but also allow the Tribes to participate in reviewing and analyzing such potential finds.

The Advisory Council’s regulations provide that the Interior Department must take into account the Council’s comments on particular projects. The Department, as the decision-making authority, is required to consider the Council’s comments but is not legally bound to follow its recommendations or conclusions.

The Cape Wind Associates, LLC facility would occupy a 25-square-mile section of Nantucket Sound and generate a maximum electric output of 468 megawatts with an average anticipated output of 182 megawatts. At average expected production, Cape Wind could produce enough energy to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts. Horseshoe Shoals lies outside shipping channels, ferry routes and flight paths but is adjacent to power-consuming coastal communities. One-fifth of the offshore wind energy potential of the East Coast is located off the New England coast and Nantucket Sound receives strong, steady Atlantic winds year round. The project includes a 66.5-mile buried submarine transmission cable system, an electric service platform and two 115-kilovolt lines connecting to the mainland power grid.

The Cape Wind Fact SheetProject Site Map and the Secretary’s Response to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation are available at
http://www.DOI.gov/news/doinews/Secretary-Salazar-Announces-Approval-of-Cape-Wind-Energy-Project-on-Outer-Continental-Shelf-off-Massachusetts.cfm or at http://go.usa.gov/iE2. More information on the project can be found at http://www.mms.gov.


March 31, 2010

Youth Voters Unhappy over Obama’s Offshore Drilling Announcement

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:59 pm
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This is a cross-post from Morgan Goodwin at Itsgettinghotinhere, the main blog for the youth climate movement.  I’ll just let candidate Obama do my talking on this one.

“Its like a kick in the face” says Jonathan Ruiz of Florida International University.  Jonathan campaigned for Obama for fourteen months, and now he’s livid about today’s announcement by the administration to open half the east coast to offshore drilling.

“I was born near Florida’s Emerald Gulf Coast.” says Graham Penniman of University of Central Florida.  “The memories that I have on those beaches brings me so much joy, that every night I fall asleep thinking about the moons reflection across the water. To imagine my beach any other way destroys my heart.”

Why are these Florida university students mad?  They are being sold out by the Obama administration in a misguided attempt to curry political favor.  From the NYTimes:

“The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.”

Youth, the millennial generation so inspired by Obama to vote in record numbers, have the most to lose from the expansion of drilling.  Even some coastal governors and senators will be angry about the announcement because of the small amount of oil and huge environmental risks.  If white-haired governors and senators are worried, what about young people who are thinking about protecting this coastline for us and our children, long after the tiny amounts of energy have been extracted?

Obama inspired our generation to turn out to the polls, and he can do it again if he moves to actually inspire us.  But youth across the South East have longer memories than this short-sighted political thinking.  Under this proposal the first lease sales for drilling would be held in 2012, a year that Obama will be hoping to connect with us and convince us he stands for our interests.  If young people don’t believe him, they aren’t going to be inspired to vote.  That’s not change we can believe in.

We aren’t going to take this.  A protest is planned for an event in Florida today where Newt Gingrich will be promoting drilling.  Nevermind that he needs to entice people to come with free “Drill Here Drill Now Pay Less” bumper stickers to the first 1000 rsvps, this event shows how dangerously aligned the Obama administration is getting to the industry-cheerleading GOP.

Lets really listen to Megan Maloney at the University of Central Florida when she says “As a young America citizen I am fearful for my future because of Obama’s decision of pursuing more offshore drilling off our coasts.”  And Keziyah Lewis of Florida State University points to the DOE report on the cost of actually extracting that energy to say “obviously offshore oil drilling just doesn’t make sense when you compare the cost of infrastructure, research, etc, to the amount of fuel that is attainable, it’s like throwing money down the toilet.”

President Obama, Ken Salaz and the rest of your teams, hear us loud and clear: young people oppose offshore drilling.

“I understand that they want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but why not reduce our dependence on oil all together. Our tax dollars are being used to drill for something that will just disappear. It is a triple negative; we use oil to run the machines that drill for that oil that we then use to fuel our lives. What kind of generation will we be viewed as if we destroy our oceans just because we want a year or two of independence from other countries? We need to stop worrying about only ourselves and think about our children and grandchildren, how is this going to effect them, what are they going to do when all our oil is gone? Why are we investing in something that can just disappear when we can put our money towards something that can last a lifetime.”  Amanda Glaze, University of West Florida

March 9, 2010

State Study Boosts Benefits of Offshore Wind Production

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:45 am
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Source: The Abell Foundation, Baltimore Sun graphic

A very good study on the potential of offshore wind for the state of Maryland.  This was in the Baltimore Sun by Timothy Wheeler last month.  Excerpts below.

Offshore wind energy can furnish Marylanders with as much as two-thirds of the electricity they currently use, and if aggressively developed, could turn the state into a net exporter of power, a new report by the Abell Foundation says.

About 2,900 wind turbines could be placed using current technology in relatively shallow Atlantic waters 28 miles to 43 miles off the Maryland coast, according to the report, which was written by researchers at the University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-free Power Integration. As many as 12,000 turbines ultimately could be deployed, the researchers say, as new wind generators are developed that can operate in deeper ocean waters, including on floating platforms.

The Abell report acknowledges that the number of turbines that could be potentially installed might need to be pared back by as much as a third to leave lanes for ships entering or exiting Delaware Bay and traversing the coast. The Delaware researchers also suggest keeping the turbines at least nine miles off the coast to limit their visibility from the resort hotels and boardwalk of Ocean City and from the beach at Assateague National Seashore. Bluewater Wind, a New Jersey firm, has proposed putting turbines at least 12 miles off the Delaware and Maryland coasts.

“If Maryland is really going to use that resource, you would need to build some kind of transmission,” said Willett Kempton, a Delaware professor and director of its carbon-free energy center. But major upgrades in the grid would not be needed to handle modest amounts of offshore wind to start, he noted.

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