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New York, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania all joined the federal government Friday to lay out some ground rules.
At issue is the possibility of building wind farms in the Great Lakes.
In a statement, Governor Andrew Cuomo said offshore wind has the potential to provide clean energy and related green jobs.
But for now Jack Nasca of the state's Department of Environmental Conservation says the agreement will have "no discernible effect."
"It just sets the framework so right now everybody knows what the game rules are as we would go forward."
The agreement comes after plans were scrapped last fall to build a state-backed wind farm in one of New York's Great Lakes.
Tom Marks is the executive director of Great Lakes Wind Truth, which opposes wind development.
"We're looking at it as a continued threat."
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that offshore wind across the Great Lakes could produce more than 700 gigawatts of power.