A unique place – leave it alone
To the Editor:
The Cape Wind permit hearings are coming up. I spent 30 years enforcing state environmental regulations and permitting various types of facilities which impacted the environment and am amazed and frustrated at the inordinate amount of time and effort that have gone into the permitting of this project. The sides are clearly drawn between those who are strongly committed to wind energy at nearly any cost and those who support renewable energy but cannot justify the environmental and aesthetic impacts that this project will likely cause.
I share the view that the minor and moderate impacts on birds, fish and other marine organisms on this particular site, as characterized by the Minerals Management Service, are not something we should be all that anxious to accept. I also see the habitat which Horseshoe Shoal represents as something irreplaceable. The shallow waters of Nantucket Sound are breeding grounds for vast numbers of marine organisms, which in turn support tremendous populations of birds, fish, and marine mammals. That is the purpose served by these shallow waters; sunlight, currents and available nutrients all make this a very unique habitat.
Through the last half of the last century we made many unwise choices in how we use the land. We put our landfills in wetlands because they were viewed as worthless land. We drained wetlands and covered them in asphalt to give us land to develop for strip malls, parking lots and housing developments all in the name of progress. We threaten the health of our rivers so we can have ready access to the cooling water for fossil and nuclear power plants rather than utilize more expensive cooling technology. Other forms of energy production cause mountains to be leveled for access to cheap coal, the arctic to be threatened for access to oil and the landscape covered with oil and gas drilling rigs. This habitat has been lost forever.
The failure of our government to establish policies that would create a comprehensive approach to national energy development and in the case of offshore wind, a strategy for ocean development, has significantly added to this problem. The warnings on climate change are real, and we need to stop wasting time. Wind energy is real but this is the wrong place for it.
Cape Wind will give us only 130 turbines, and it should be abundantly obvious that this site will never be able to expand; there is no space for growth. We will be giving up this unique habitat, this little donut hole of federal land, only to see it become dwarfed by the larger scale wind projects that will come in the very near future to satisfy our needs to become energy independent. These new projects will be in deeper offshore waters where they would be best sited.
This should be the focus of the MMS evaluation – alternative sites for the more significant amounts of energy this region needs. It is only through comprehensive planning that we can meet the challenge and permanently replace fossil fuels with renewable energy such as wind power. The current piecemeal approach represented by Cape Wind is shortsighted and sacrifices critical inshore habitat for little long-term energy gain.
As a nation, we have succeeded in losing much of our most valuable habitat forever; they don’t make it anymore. The shallow waters of Nantucket Sound are now similarly threatened. Although clean, wind does not come without a price and we should not let our passion for protecting our planet leave us without those places that make it special. We should not be so quick to run to the first entrepreneur to come down the road and jump on his wagon. This project represents a financial package favorable to the developer and no one else. MMS needs to recognize that the evolution of wind technology has already made deeper water locations off our shoreline a distinct reality where we can take advantage of more consistent winds and fewer resource impacts and leave this truly unique place to the creatures who depend on it for their survival, including all of us.
No to Cape Wind
To the Editor:
Do you love to look out on the water, savor the natural beauty undisturbed by man surrounding the Island? I do and I bet you do too. You don’t have to be a fisherman or a sailor to appreciate the unique place we choose to live. Cape Wind threatens us all in different ways. For me, 130 wind turbines taller than the Statue of Liberty are not inspired beauty or majestic peacefulness, with their 182-foot rotating blades and blinking lights. They are giant dollar signs for a private developer who will rake in subsidies and tax credits on our dime.
Six million birds migrate through the area of Horseshoe Shoals, the proposed construction site. These turbines are a danger to them and to aircraft radar. We currently enjoy nature’s gift of excellent water quality. Cape Wind will contain 40,000 gallons of transformer oil on the 10-story electrical service platform, complete with helicopter pad.
A number of Island commercial fishermen regularly fish the shoals, your neighbor might be permanently losing his livelihood with the construction of the wind farm, never mind a potential spill. After all, the Big Dig turned out fine. Circuit Avenue will be doing the Cape Wind shuffle, marching to the multi-ton, metronome-like, incessant pounding of metal on metal pile drivers forcing these structures into the seabed.
Oh, we certainly will be able to hear it across the sound and during years of construction.
There is a bright future for wind power, but Cape Wind’s proposal is flawed. We don’t even get the electricity, it goes into the National Grid. The Federal Minerals Management Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), available at the Vineyard Haven Public Library, admits the cost of the electricity from Cape Wind will cost two to three times more than current wholesale prices. Federal and state taxpayers will pay over $1.3 billion in tax credits and subsidies to Cape Wind, a private enterprise. Your tax dollars at work in a private pocket.
I think it is costly enough to live here; does there have to be a cost to the environment as well? Please visit saveoursound.org. (It’s quite an education) Look at the proposed view from Ocean Park and come to the DEIS public hearing at MVHRS on the 12th. This is our last chance to stop Cape Wind and their deep pockets.
Don’t we sacrifice enough already? There is no benefit for the Island. We will suffer sea life habitat destruction, danger to bird migration, aircraft radar, boat navigation and property values as many of our stunning views will no longer exist. Your voice is needed at the last hearing, with mine. You can do something now that your great, great grandchildren will thank you for. It’s our environment, not Cape Wind’s, not yet.
6 March 2008
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