STATUS: In progress
OPPOSITION: Government officials (Sen. Edward Kennedy, Cape Cod Commission), celebrities (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.), local residents (Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound)
BACKGROUND: Cape Wind, the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm, is perhaps the nation’s most infamous example of the horrors of NIMBY. Since filing for its first permit in 2001, the 130-turbine project planned for Nantucket Sound has been forced to navigate through a gauntlet of permit-related hurdles. Cape Wind received final environmental approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on March 30, 2007. On January 14, 2008, The U.S. Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) issued a highly favorable Draft EIS. On January 16, 2009, MMS issued a highly favorable Final EIS on the project. Cape Wind is set to receive a “super permit” from the Energy Facilities Siting Board that would satisfy nine required state and local approvals, as well as overturn a Cape Cod Commission procedural denial of the project.
At peak generation, Cape Wind will generate 420 megawatts of renewable electricity. Cape Wind is a $2.5 billion project. It will create between 597 and 1013 jobs during the pre-operations stage, and 154 permanent jobs during operations.
The project has faced strong opposition from some senior politicians in Massachusetts and a deep-pocketed and politically connected local group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. It is reported that the Alliance poured more than $15 million into fighting Cape Wind tooth and nail ever since the project was unveiled in 2001. The Alliance says that the project poses a threat to public safety, would impact shipping lanes, and would adversely affect tourism and Cape Cod’s economy due to its impact on Nantucket Sound’s natural beauty.
In 2009, the project faced another challenge when the Mashpee Wampanoag and the Wampanoag of Gay Head tribes joined forces with the Alliance to Project Nantucket Sound in an effort to designate the entire Nantucket Sound as an Indian historic property for listing on the National Register as a Traditional Cultural Property. Under this designation, all actions in the Sound, would become subject to the National Historic Preservation Act, including commercial fishing and virtually every other activity. The tribes claimed the proposed wind farm would destroy a sacred site where their ancestors fished, hunted and possibly were buried.
In April 2010, the project received federal approval, ending a nearly decade-long political battle. The project should be operational in 2012. On October 6, 2010, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an signed the lease which authorized Capto construct the wind farm and to operate the facility for a period of 25 years.
SOURCES: Cape Wind Official Website: http://www.capewind.org/article23.htm;
Cape Cod Times: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090313/NEWS/903130307;
Associated Press: http://www.turnto10.com/jar/news/local/article/indian_tribes_object_to_cape_wind;
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/AR2010042804398.html;
Free Republic: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2604812/posts;
Last updated November 17, 2010