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Obama Administration To Ramp Up Cape Wind Talks

Cape Wind President Jim Gordon listens to a question during a news conference in Boston on Jan. 14, 2008. (AP)

Cape Wind President Jim Gordon listens during a news conference in Boston on Jan. 14, 2008. (AP)

BOSTON — The Obama administration is stepping into the debate over the stalled Cape Wind project in an effort to resolve the impasse over what has long been a back-and-forth issue in Massachusetts.

Word from the federal government came after the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm suffered an apparent setback on Monday when the National Park Service ruled that the sound can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Such listing gives the water area extra protection from development.

Following the decision by the Park Service, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would summon the key parties to a meeting next week aimed at coming up with “a common-sense agreement” on Cape Wind by March.

“After several years of review, it is now time to move the Cape Wind proposal to a final decision point,” Salazar said in a statement.

“If an agreement among the parties can’t be reached,” Salazar wrote, “I will be prepared to take the steps necessary to bring the permit process to conclusion.” He also cited the potential of clean energy development, but insisted that such progress be done “in the right way.”

Advocates for the Cape Wind project hold signs outside Faneuil Hall in Boston in April 2006, where top state leaders were gathered for a bill signing. (AP)

Advocates for the Cape Wind project hold signs outside Faneuil Hall in Boston in April 2006. (AP)

According to Monday’s Park Service report, “Nantucket Sound is eligible … as a traditional cultural property and as a historic and archaeological property associated with and that has yielded and has the potential to yield important information about the Native American exploration and settlement of Cape Cod and the Islands.”

Further, the report states that “recent sampling projects in the Sound have uncovered new and highly significant additional evidence of intact, ancient, terrestrial soils” which date to Early and Middle Archaic periods.

The issue of historical designation was originally passed on to the National Park Service in November after state officials claimed the subject needed more study. Two Wampanoag tribes had been pushing for the historical designation because they said the Cape Wind project would disturb burial grounds and destroy their ancient rituals, which require an unblocked view of the sunrise.

Ironically, Monday’s report and apparent setback for Cape Wind was commissioned by the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS). Followers of the years-long discourse will recall that MMS gave Cape Wind an apparent boost in early 2008 when it released a draft report indicating that the wind farm would have little environmental impact.

“Most of the impacts are minor or negligible,” Rodney Cluck of MMS said to WBUR in January 2008. “There are a few that are moderate. But [we] didn’t come up with or find any major impacts.”

The recent Cape Wind news came as Massachusetts became the first state to develop an ocean management plan. Such a plan promotes offshore renewable energy projects while also protecting sensitive marine life.

Proposed to be the country’s first large off-shore wind farm, Cape Wind includes 130 wind turbine generators arranged in a grid across 25 square miles within the federal waters of Nantucket Sound.

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  • http://text.donschaefer.net Don Schaefer

    I am appalled that we are industrializing Nantucket Sound. Let’s preserve that precious habitat and place wind farms locally or in industrial areas where transmission costs and environmental impact will be much less. We can also do a lot more individually to conserve energy before taking such radical steps as Cape Wind, a tragedy. We’ve abused the oceans around Massachusetts enough already. Why pollute a wilderness area forever because we won’t take individual and local responsibility energy conservation??

    Martha and Deval, can you hear me??

  • Valerie White

    Gosh, we’d better get those icky looking boats out of there too, especially the yachts of the rich.

  • Maraith

    What I want to know and have never seen addressed, is whether or how much Cape Wind would PAY the state for its private use of public land. Has anyone looked into this?

    A cut in utility rates for a small group of towns is not what I mean. The state owns that land. The whole state should benefit if the land is leased or in any way used by private interests.

  • Mike Johnson

    To “Maraith”, ref. “how much will Cape Wind pay the citizens of MA?” Cape Wind will provide over 400 megawatts of clean, renewable energy for Cape Cod, which is about 75% of their demand. MA residents will benefit because this avoids another coal burning power plant to be built. How much money have fossil fuel supply and production facilities paid MA residents? Think about Weaver’s Cove LNG in Fall River or Northeast Gateway LNG terminal off Gloucester? Other than paying for compensatory mitigation for impacts to fishery habitats (of which Cape Wind was determined to have none), these facilities weren’t required to pay the public anything. Isn’t expecting payment from Cape Wind to all MA citizens a double standard?

  • Barbara Durkin

    Cape Wind is the antithesis of a solution unless you’re a multinational seeking tax sheltering opportunities and control of public lands, including those submerged.

    Cape Wind scored a “no bid” deal for Nantucket Sound, so Cape Wind, EMI, UPC, Wind Management, LLC, and Wind Partners, LLC have managed to escape the bidding process. The developer (shell corporations) has/have not been vetted by a bidding process. As such, the public and our environment are exposed to unacceptable risks.

    To put this in perspective, who would enter a real estate transaction to sell their residence to a buyer that had not been qualified. For all purposes, Cape Wind would “move into” Nantucket Sound without demonstrating that they would be a good “tenant”.

    Google the shell corporations provided above. That’s better investigation of this prospective tenant(s) than the regulators have conducted.

    Thank You,

    Barbara Durkin

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