OAK BLUFFS – There was a lot of flannel and a sea of bearded faces at last night’s public hearing on the wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound.
While many of the Cape Wind project’s supporters also spoke in the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School auditorium, the island’s commercial fishermen made their opposition clear.
“There’s a lot of fishing that happens here on this island,” Tom Osmers of West Tisbury said.
“You’re calling it an offshore project but, in fact, it is something that is close to our heart,” he said.
Osmers, who represents Vineyard towns and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) at the New England Fisheries Management Council, joined a chorus of his fellow fishermen calling a draft federal environmental report on Cape Wind flawed in its analysis of fishing on Horseshoe Shoal.
Cape Wind wants to build 130 wind turbines on 25 square miles of the shoal. The final version of the U.S. Minerals Management Service report and an up-or-down decision from the federal agency are the last major regulatory hurdles the project faces.
“I first fished the Horseshoe Shoal area in Nantucket Sound 45 years ago and still fish this area every year,” commercial fisherman Gregory Mayhew said.
“It is the most productive area of Nantucket Sound.”
At Tuesday night’s hearing on Nantucket, the author of a Nantucket Sound fishing study said local fishermen could lose $8 million over the 25-year life span of the Cape Wind project.
The Minerals Management Service’s draft environmental report estimates those losses at only $15,000.
Cape Wind proponents sympathized with the fishermen last night, but they called on the Minerals Management Service and the audience of about 350 people to consider the greater good.
Renewable energy is needed locally to contain energy costs and globally to help combat climate change, island carpenter Steve Solarazza said.
“Whether it’s the coal miner in Appalachia risking their life or a soldier in the Middle East,” Solarazza said. “We could ease that burden.”
Islander Phillip Henderson said wind energy is an essential part of the solution to a worldwide problem.
“Global warming is more extensive and more devastating than we can conceive,” Henderson said. “Maybe someday NIMBY can stand for ‘now in my backyard.'”
By Patrick Cassidy
13 March 2008
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