A coalition of environmental and trade groups has launched a new campaign in support of Cape Wind.
The campaign’s website focuses on the source of money behind opposition to the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm.
“We’re launching what we’re referring to as the Cape Wind Now campaign,” said Sue Reid, vice president and director of Conservation Law Foundation Massachusetts.
The Boston-based environmental group is a longtime supporter of the project and spearheaded the new campaign, which includes Greenpeace, Clean Water Action, the National Wildlife Federation, Environment Massachusetts, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and the Boston and New England Maritime Trades Council. More groups are expected to join, according to CLF officials.
While support for Cape Wind from these groups is not new, this is the first time they have come together in a concerted attempt to propel the project forward.
The goal of the campaign is to get Cape Wind “across the finish line” and expose the source of funding for the opposition. This includes donations to the project’s primary opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, from fossil-fuel interests such as Osterville resident and billionaire mining magnate William Koch, Reid said.
Through 2010, the alliance had raised more than $22 million in its efforts to stop Cape Wind.
Cape Wind officials say they have spent more than $50 million in planning and permitting for the 130-turbine wind farm. In the past several years the company has secured all of its required permits, but the project still faces a series of lawsuits challenging approvals from the federal government.
Most recently, the alliance and the town of Barnstable appealed an approval for the project issued in August by the Federal Aviation Administration.
A judge last year struck down an earlier approval by the agency for the wind farm.
Previously, grass-roots support for the project was the province of Clean Power Now, a Cape-based group that dissolved at the end of 2011.
The website for Cape Wind Now hits on many of the same themes heralded by that group, including tying the alliance closely to those with connections to fossil-fuel industries.
“To me it’s more of the same or they’re panicking that it’s not going to go forward,” alliance president and CEO Audra Parker said about the new coalition.
Opponents argue that the cost of Cape Wind’s power is far more expensive than electricity from other sources and that the 440-foot-tall wind turbines will be a danger to travelers, the environment and the local economy.
The new coalition is trying to distract the public from the real issues, Parker said.
“What’s their position on paying a $4 billion premium for Cape Wind’s power?” she said.
While the fight over Cape Wind is now primarily a legal one, it is also a financial battle, Parker said, citing the company’s need to secure financing and sell the remaining 22.5 percent of its power that is not already spoken for by NStar and National Grid.
“They just won’t give up,” Greenpeace research director Kert Davies said about the alliance.
“They’re going to fight until the end, until they run out of money – which will be never, and we’re not going to stand for it.”
The battle over Cape Wind is part of a larger attempt by well-heeled fossil-fuel interests to undermine clean energy, Davies said.
The new group includes a much larger pool of voices and will focus on the latest tactics by Cape Wind’s opponents to stop the project, Reid said.
These include a congressional investigation into whether the FAA was pressured by President Barack Obama’s administration to approve Cape Wind and financial support from the alliance provided to the town of Barnstable in its appeal of the FAA finding, she said.
Barnstable has received $355,000 through a dedicated gift account that has been spent on outside counsel in the FAA appeal, said Charles McLaughlin, an attorney for the town.
While Reid argues that the town’s acceptance of the money “does not pass the smell test,” McLaughlin said it is in line with the town’s policies and concerns related to Cape Wind, including emergency procedures and costs.
Barnstable Town Council has voted two or three times to challenge Cape Wind over the years, even as the makeup of the board changed, he said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding