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Alliance takes pokes at federal review of Cape Wind  

Hopes public, commenting agencies will turn the tide toward disapproval

Calling the Mineral Management Service’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Cape Wind project inadequate and flawed, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound held an ill-attended press conference Jan. 23 at the Hyannis Angler’s Club.Glenn Wattley, president and CEO of the Alliance, rejected the notion that the mostly favorable report forecloses all but political and legal challenges to the plan to plant 130 turbines on Nantucket Sound to convert wind energy into electricity. He argued that the comment period will allow the public, state and federal agencies, and affected industries to punch holes in the report, which found almost all impacts would be minimal or negligible.

Tom Bernardo, community relations director for state Rep. Demetrius Atsalis, said the representative is seeking a doubling of the 60-day comment period to make sure everyone is heard. He criticized the project as being “not about green energy, or Greenpeace. It’s about greenbacks.”

Yarmouth Selectman Bill Morasco, who had gone to Washington with Atsalis and other Cape leaders last month to meet with MMS officials and make local opposition clear, spoke of his disappointment. He described the project as “25 square miles of an industrial energy complex buried 81 feet in the ground in the middle of what we consider a conservation part of the community.”

Green, a Mashpee selectman and Wampanoag who made the trip to D.C., said the concerns of his tribe and the Aquinnah Wampanoag are not reflected in the draft decision. He said members want to keep the Sound open for fishing and recreation.

John Griffin, vice chair of the Barnstable Municipal Airport Commission, said it was “pretty clear the MMS report failed to respond to the concerns of pilots, airline operators and airport managers.” He noted that the Federal Aviation Administration has declared the wind farm a “presumed hazard” and is reviewing it again.

Ron Borjeson, a board member of the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership, said Horseshoe Shoal was declared a critical habitat area in 1995, and asked how MMS could appear to be ready to allow construction there.

Zeroing in on the economics of the project, Wattley said Cape Wind would raise the cost of electricity. “Contrary to promises that ‘the wind is free’ and will reduce our bills,” he said, “in no part can we find economic benefits to rate payers.”

The potential impact on birds was the concern of Lindsay Counsell, executive director of Three Bays Preservation Trust, who said the Nantucket Sound ecosystem as a whole has not been analyzed to reveal the interrelationships among its more than 20 critical wildlife habitats.

Rallying the troops at the end, Audra Parker, the Alliance’s director of strategic planning, said that the MMS document “is a draft report. It’s not a final. It’s not an approval.”

By Edward F. Maroney
Associate Editor

The Barnstable Patriot

25 January 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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