The federal agency reviewing plans for a 40-turbine wind farm off the coast of Jones Beach Thursday said it would delay release of a much-anticipated report on environmental impacts of the controversial project.
The first draft of the environmental impact statement for the proposal, which was scheduled to be released this month or next, has been postponed for months because of data collection delays, regulators said.
“It is taking longer than anticipated to gather the raw data needed to conduct the [National Environmental Protection Act] analysis,” for the draft environmental impact statement, said Nicolette Nye, a spokeswoman for the Minerals Management Service, in an e-mail.
Worse, the department as of last week wasn’t sure when it would be released. “It’s difficult to say,” said Nye, adding the agency is working on a revised schedule for the project that is due “in the near future.”
The environmental review will be closely watched. Opponents of the project worry it will disrupt everything from bird migration patterns and fishing to aircraft radar systems and the pristine ocean view. Proponents, including the sponsoring Long Island Power Authority and some environmentalists, say those setbacks are outweighed by lessening dependence on foreign oil and reducing global-warming greenhouse gases.
The wind turbines, which would stand 445 feet high and 31/2 to 5 miles off the coast, are expected to cost more than $400 million, though LIPA has declined to release the final costs.
Nye said the agency wasn’t sure how the delay would affect the final review of the project. “MMS is currently evaluating the situation to determine how it will impact the timeline for the federal review of the project,” Nye said.
By Mark Harrington
9 March 2007
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