What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas, but what happens in federal waters in Nantucket Sound that may affect the core resources that the Cape Cod Commission is charged to protect won’t happen without Commission review.
That, at least, is the position the county agency took yesterday afternoon when it voted unanimously to “review and regulate” the land-based and near-shore elements of the 130-turbine power generation project but also “review the impacts, both positive and negative, of the entire project” as they relates to the environmental, economic and cultural values named in the Commission’s enabling legislation.
Following the advice of their Boston counsel, Eric Wodlinger, but challenging him on some matters as well, the members rejected Cape Wind’s contention that its project should be reviewed under the 1996 Regional Policy Plan, advising staff to apply the 2002 version in its preparation of the Development of Regional Impact review. A scoping meeting held with the state in 2001 did not start the clock on review, Wodlinger argued.
Commissioners agreed that the agency cannot require Cape Wind to acquire a lease from the federal Materials Management Service for use of Nantucket Sound beyond the three-mile limit, or a Chapter 91 license from the state for use of near-shore waters, before undergoing DRI review. Wodlinger pointed out that these depend in part of local licensing from the Town of Yarmouth, where Cape’s wind’s cable will come ashore, and town permits cannot be issued until the Commission’s work is complete.
Members made it clear that acquisition of those licenses would be part of the order of conditions that would issue with any DRI approval ““ if such is forthcoming.
Wodlinger said the Cape Wind proposal cannot undergo DRI review until the company demonstrates ownership of or an easement or lease for land under which its cable will run through Yarmouth to a power station in Barnstable. He said no evidence has been presented that Cape Wind has contacted private property owners along the route to acquire these rights.
Commission members agreed the application would be incomplete until such information was received. Wodlinger pointed out that, should Cape Wind run into trouble getting approvals, it can go to the state Energy Facilities Siting Board and make a case to be given the power of eminent domain.
The Commissioners’ decisions were reached minutes before the Patriot’s deadline late Thursday afternoon. Further information about next steps, as well as a response from Cape Wind’s attorney, will follow.
By Edward F. Maroney
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