As I stood near my home on Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven looking southwest out over Buzzards Bay, I kept thinking, “It’s just not the same,” and in fact it wasn’t. It was the day after the radar tower at Round Hill in Dartmouth was taken down. I thought about the loss of this piece of history, and what it stood for: the remarkable story of Edward Howland Robinson Green, “Colonel” Green, his family, and of course his infamous mother, the “Witch of Wall Street,” Henrietta “Hetty” Green.
As I pondered this, I still kept thinking “No, it’s not the same.” That’s when it occurred to me that the difference was that this vista that I had looked out over so many times before now seemed somehow softer, less citified, less industrial.
“This is what it looked like before the tower,” I thought, closer to what Bartholomew Gosnold would have seen when he discovered Buzzards Bay, and though we had lost a piece of history, I knew that we had gotten back some of our history as well; the bay was now in more of its natural state. Get a good look, folks, because it may be gone forever if Jay Cashman can sneak a wind farm in under our noses.
Mr. Cashman’s attempt to sneak past the Massachusetts House of Representatives an amendment to the Ocean Sanctuaries Act as part of a recently passed energy bill shows just what kind of tactics he is willing to resort to in order to build his wind farm. This amendment would clear a major impasse for the development of large-scale industrial wind power plants along the Massachusetts coast.
The amendment was not filed by the House deadline, nor was it posted with other amendments on the House Web site prior to debate, but instead was slipped into a consolidated amendment by Rep. Robert DeLeo of Winthrop at the last possible moment, with only about 15 minutes for members to review. Some members voted for the energy bill without even knowing of the inclusion of the amendment.
It is also interesting to note that Mr. Cashman is a close personal friend of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, and that he sent a letter to the House clerk earlier this year to disclose the fact. How convenient that this letter should be sent, just in case further down the road eyebrows should be raised when something like this happens. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” (a quote from The Wizard of Oz).
In case you are not familiar with it, the Ocean Sanctuaries Act designates approximately 85 percent of Massachusetts state waters as ocean sanctuaries. There is good reason for this. We are fortunate to live in an area of some of the most pristine waters off the coast, but it is also a very fragile ecosystem.
Mr. Cashman and proponents of his project would have you believe that it would have no negative effects on the Bay. How is this even logical? First of all, the only way not to affect the Bay is to do nothing; in other words, things stay the same. I certainly can’t see how a large-scale industrial power plant could be positive for the condition of the bay, and to say it would have no affect at all is ludicrous.
The “windies” tout recent studies that show that bird collisions with wind towers are not as likely as previously thought, but what about what goes on beneath the surface? Putting up wind towers is not like putting candles on a birthday cake. They need a foundation. How much space will this take up, and what will it be made up of?
Mr. Cashman wants to build these towers in shallow, rocky areas, exactly the kind of habitat needed for lobster “nurseries” where young lobsters can hide from predators while developing. How will this affect them as well as other crustaceans, shellfish, small organisms and plants? There is much more to an ocean than just its surface, and there is much more to wind energy than just its surface.
Jay Cashman would have you believe that this project will free us from the yoke of dependency on foreign oil, drastically reduce your electric bill, save us from the terrorists, and make you one hell of an American! Talk about a play right out of the George Bush get-what-you-want-by-playing-on-their-fears playbook! Please! If you believe this, I’ve got some weapons of mass destruction I’d like you to see!
The Standard Times states, “No one has a good excuse for a NIMBY attitude when it comes to renewable energy” (Dec. 5). This is not about spoiling the view of some rich people. It is about one rich person, Jay Cashman, and him making himself richer. This is about much more than a “NIMBY attitude.” It is about preserving a natural treasure, Buzzards Bay. It is about preserving our history and our heritage. It is about preserving our livelihood and our way of life.
Jay Cashman would ask if we want clean, renewable energy projects to be a part of the commonwealth’s energy future. I believe the answer to that question to be a resounding “no,” not if it means sacrificing the bay to allow a large profit to Mr. Cashman, and energy savings that won’t amount to a hill of beans for the rest of us. “No” to big business that we can’t trust to be honest and above board, and “no” to politicians who represent the interests of only themselves and a few powerful individuals and not those of the citizens they represent.
By Michael Mulroy
Mr. Mulroy lives in Fairhaven.
9 December 2007
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