“Dear Secretary Norton:
“As you know, on Aug. 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law designates the Department of the Interior as the lead agency to develop a comprehensive offshore renewable energy and alternative use program, as well as to review offshore wind energy projects, such as the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.
Last month, the Minerals Management Service (“MMS”) publicly stated that it has been actively working to establish a program regulating offshore renewable energy and alternative use of America’s offshore public lands, also known as the outer continental shelf (“OCS”). In the meantime, however, the developers of the Cape Wind project apparently have filed applications with the MMS using forms and procedures applicable to other OCS programs.
“In light of these recent development, I urge MMS to wait until it establishes guidelines to all offshore wind projects before it acts upon an individual project, such as Cape Wind. In my opinion, the review of this project at this time would make little sense and would undermine the goal of developing comprehensive guidelines that establish the specific criteria for reviewing such projects, including those that specifically protect the interests of any state affected by the project.
“In addition, although MMS has many years of experience in overseeing oil, gas and other mineral activities in offshore federal lands, offshore wind projects are very different. These projects are typically much larger in scope than oil rig projects, are not necessarily subject to competitive bidding, and have significantly different impacts, benefits and consequences than other types of projects.
“Clearly, they require a separate and distinct regulatory program because the existing regulations are only applicable to oil, gas and other mineral activities, and are totally unsuited to review and assess these large and complicated wind projects.
“Furthermore, Massachusetts needs to be a full partner with its federal counterparts in developing the comprehensive program for the offshore renewable energy and alternative use program, as well as reviewing any individual project. In my own state, I have introduced comprehensive ocean legislation that more effectively protects the public lands of our oceans while still encouraging growth.
“Although I am a strong supporter of renewable energy and believe there is much promise for wind projects in other locations, I remain opposed to the Cape Wind project, and I urge MMS to suspend its review of the project until it develops a comprehensive offshore renewable energy and alternative use program.
“Thank you for considering my comments, and I look forward to working with MMS and your Department in the future.
Gov. Mitt Romney”
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