Numerous conclusions in draft report on Cape Wind in draft report on Cape Wind are unsupportable.
First of two parts:
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has delivered a blistering assessment of the federal government’s review of the Cape Wind project.
Seven years after Cape Wind staked a claim on 24 square miles of Nantucket Sound, the developer and the U.S. Minerals Management Service have failed to answer critical questions about the effects of the project on the environment.
“With respect to natural resources for which Fish & Wildlife Service is responsible, we find that there is considerable need to correct inaccuracies, explain inconsistencies, clarify ambiguities, fully articulate the limitations of the available science, and reach logical conclusions about the extent of impacts or the inability to predict them in the absence of information,” said Michael Bartlett, supervisor of Fish & Wildlife’s New England field office in Concord, N.H.
“The Draft Environmental Impact Statement repeatedly and inappropriately draws conclusions regarding anticipated environmental impacts, or lack thereof, in the absence of important site-specific information on natural resources in…Nantucket Sound.” Chief among these are migratory birds and the benthic and pelagic resources the birds depend on.
Bartlett reminded the Minerals Management Service that Fish & Wildlife has been complaining about the paucity of site-specific information for about five years.
“Yet despite our continued recommendation that an adequate baseline be established from which to assess impacts and design minimization and mitigation measures, little information has actually been gathered,” he said.
Elsewhere in the lengthy draft environmental impact statement, the Minerals Management Service states that necessary scientific information is not available, but nevertheless reaches a conclusion that impacts will be negligible, minor or nonexistent.
“Such conclusions, which are numerous, appear as unsupportable as the DEIS is long,” said Bartlett. “It remains our opinion that much additional information in the Horseshoe Shoal region of Nantucket Sound needs to be developed to allow for a thorough identification and assessment of impacts and to identify actions which would avoid, minimize, or compensate for those effects.”
Bartlett said federal law requires the Mineral Management Service or the developer to collect the missing information.
As a result, Fish & Wildlife has called for a supplemental draft environmental impact statement, which could take many months, if not years, to develop.
In its conclusion, Fish & Wildlife wrote: “The Cape Wind Project is the first of its kind in the United States and is one of the largest offshore wind projects in the world… . In our view, if this project is to move forward through the various regulatory processes facing the application to a defensible decision point, the information needs identified in our letters and comments need to be addressed” in a supplemental draft environmental impact statement.
“We collectively have an opportunity before us now to ‘do this right’,” Bartlett said. “Unfortunately, we have failed to do so.”
7 May 2008
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