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Brown calls for fed probe of Cape Wind

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown yesterday joined the growing chorus of critics calling for a federal probe into Cape Wind, saying officials have been aware of safety concerns “forever” and raising questions about whether the hotly debated Nantucket Sound project was born from “backroom deals.”

“If there’s any inference of any backroom deals … there should be an independent investigation to verify if those things are true,” Brown told the Herald, brushing off Obama administration claims that a probe would be too costly.

“Sometimes you have to focus on the solution and getting the answers,” Brown said. “And if there is a cost associated with that, and if there’s been wrongdoing, we need to find out and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Cape Wind has come under renewed fire after opponents produced Federal Aviation Administration emails showing the agency felt political pressure to approve the project despite concerns that more than 100 offshore 440-foot-tall wind turbines would interfere with radar communications and could ensnare small, low-flying planes.

U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Florida), who investigated the failed solar energy company Solyndra, last month said he wants to launch a similar probe into Cape Wind, igniting a sharp response from White House officials who accused him of wasting $1 million probing the California firm.

FAA officials, in the midst of their review of Cape Wind, said yesterday any “employee opinions expressed in internal emails or documents are not official agency positions,” adding, “The FAA makes obstruction evaluations based on safety considerations and the available solutions to mitigate potential risks.”

A Cape Wind spokesman said the current review is “devoid of any political considerations,” adding officials are optimistic the FAA “will once again determine that Cape Wind presents no hazard.”

Gov. Deval Patrick’s top environmental official, Energy Secretary Rick Sullivan, said, “The Cape Wind project has been extensively reviewed by multiple agencies for more than a decade. Public safety has been and remains our number one priority, and we are confident final approval would come only after all safety concerns are addressed.”

But Brown said the concerns surrounding the project are ones “we’ve known about … forever.”

He added, “I’ve always said, ‘It’s putting wind turbines in the middle of a national treasure.’ ”

Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound applauded Brown’s comments, calling an investigation “long overdue,” citing “clear evidence the FAA has succumbed to political pressure and overlooked the technical concerns of local air traffic experts and the FAA’s own employees and technical experts.”