An Edgartown conservation commission hearing on export cables for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project saw a packed and divided room on not just the issue of the cables but the project itself.
Fishermen raised a litany of questions about the cables ranging from the ramifications of electromagnetic energy from them on sea-life to Vineyard Wind’s understanding of the shifting shoals in the Muskeget Channel where the cables will be buried. Supporters of the project, including several scientists, pointed out climate change is moving at an unanticipated rapid pace and that the Vineyard Wind project is critical not only to mitigating the carbon emissions driving such changes but as a beacon to the world that such projects must move forward.
Counter to the opinion of Vineyard Wind and town counsel Ron Rappaport, who was not present, the commission voted that the cable is within the jurisdiction of Edgartown and therefore they will evaluate its impacts not just through the lens of state law but the bylaws of Edgartown. But when they returned from a recess for lunch, the commission voted unanimously to rescind that decision without explaining the 180 degree turn.
Rob Hannemann, Chilmark’s finance committee chairman and a former Tufts engineering professor, said 70 percent of Americans are concerned about climate change but they aren’t aware of how close the world is to disaster. He went so far as to say “not since Ted Kennedy missed the bridge is there such a national impact that could come out of your decision.”
Alex Friedman, a Katama oyster farmer, said while he was a supporter of alternative energy, he said “the ecological impacts of not just the construction of the cable, but the electromagnetic field coming from the cable, is massive…”
After two and a half hours the meeting recessed for lunch and was poised to reconvene at approximately 1:15 pm.
The cable already has the approval of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the state.
This is a developing story.
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