Cape Wind and the environment: trick or treat? Cape Cod Commission hearing a platform for advocates and opponents
With an anticipated decision deadline of Oct. 7 looming, one thing seemed apparent at Thursday’s public comment hearing on Cape Wind Energy LLC’s proposal to construct and operate a wind park facility on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound: the Cape Cod Commission will not be pleasing everyone when it makes its determination.
Two tables set up in the hall outside West Yarmouth’s Mattacheese Middle School auditorium portrayed the evening’s conflict; Save our Sound stickers and pamphlets covered one table while Clean Power Now buttons and information covered another.
While many of those speaking supported the project, citing the effects of global warming and the urgency to develop clean energy, a number of those commenting were concerned the wind farm itself might harm the environment.
Suzanne McAuliffe, chairman of Yarmouth’s selectmen, told commission members her board opposes the Cape Wind project at the proposed site. Yarmouth, she said, would be “ground zero” for any spills of oil from the project’s transformer platform.
“Forty thousand gallons of anything, even milk, is something you don’t want washing up on your beaches,” said McAuliffe.
Cliff Carroll, founder of windstop.org, shared McAuliffe’s concerns about spills and urged the Commission to consider elements of the project that are in federal as well as state waters.
“Landfall is in Barnstable County, which is under your jurisdiction,” McAulliffe told the commission.
Mark Rodgers, communications director for Cape Wind, said during a break that the chances of a spill at the facility were about 1 percent over the life of the project.
West Yarmouth resident Dorothy Svoboda spoke in favor of the project noting that the upland cable would pass right by her door. “It can’t be soon enough for me,” she said.
A few of those speaking in favor of the project said they had gone to Denmark to see wind farms first-hand, including Centerville resident William Griswold, a member of Clean Power Now, who organized the Denmark tours. He said studies of the Denmark facilities had found positive environmental impacts and increased tourism in the area.
“You need to be there on the bluff, feel the wind on your face and see the wind farm on the horizon,” said Griswold.
Ian Pajer-Rogers, campaign coordinator of Greenpeace, voiced his organization’s support of project. “The ecological concerns raised by wind power skeptics in Europe have not borne out,’’ he said.
Wayne Lamson, general manager of the Steamship Authority, expressed concerns about the wind farm’s presence in the Sound, including navigational hazards and radar interference. “Any impacts on steamship operations will have impacts on our customers,” he said.
Fisherman Ron Borgeson said the area was a “huge fishing spot” for both commercial and recreational fishermen. “We will be totally displaced,” he said.
The commission subcommittee heard expanded testimony on the project yesterday.
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