USA and Massachusetts
WASHINGTON -- As record oil prices turn attention to the need for renewable fuels, momentum is building in Congress to buck Senator Edward M. Kennedy's bid to block the proposed Cape Cod wind energy project, potentially reviving efforts to construct the sprawling windmill farm in Nantucket Sound.
Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar today approved the controversial, long-delayed Cape Wind project, which would construct wind turbines along Horseshoe Shoal on Nantucket Sound, with conditions to protect the historic quality of the Sound. ...Salazar said project developers will be required to undergo more marine and archaeological reviews and take steps to reduce the turbines' visibility from the shore.
Cape Wind could begin to set up financing for its plan to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound as early as this spring, according to a company official.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service issued a largely positive environmental report for the project last month and a formal approval of a lease for the project could come as soon as two weeks. Combined with several permits already issued by the state and a pending decision on all other local and state permits, the federal lease could clear the way for Cape Wind to pursue investors and loans for the project.
The developers of the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm said yesterday that they would not meet a deadline to qualify for a 30 percent federal cash grant for the project.
However, it is not clear if the cost of Cape Wind's electricity will rise, because the project could receive numerous other federal financial incentives.
On Monday afternoon the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (a Federal agency established in 1966) held a four-hour public meeting at the Tilden Arts Center at Cape Cod Community College to collect comment on what the adverse effects of the wind farm would on historic cultural properties, possibly including the sound itself might be. They'll issue their comments to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar prior to April 14, and after that he'll determine whether the Minerals Management Service will issue the project a permit for development in Federal waters.
A group of Wampanoag tribes who say they've been cast aside on issues from the Nantucket Sound wind farm to the future of gaming are breaking away to create a new council to deal with state government.
The state-recognized tribes are calling on Gov. Deval Patrick to disband the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs, the current liaison to state tribes.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar journeyed out into Nantucket Sound on a Coast Guard vessel last week to signal the Obama administration's readiness to put some muscle behind wind energy. To do that, Salazar has to resolve a battle over building a wind farm on 25 square miles of open water that has driven a rift between environmentalists, infuriated local Native Americans and threatened one of the administration's cherished priorities.
The Wampanoag Indians of southeastern Massachusetts welcomed the Pilgrims when they arrived on the Mayflower nearly 400 years ago. But now they're trying to stop another newcomer -- wind turbines.
Citing customs and religious practices recorded since the earliest contact with Europeans, two local tribes have blocked, at least for now, America's first planned offshore wind farm and the Obama administration's efforts to promote renewable sources of energy.
The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) is extending the public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Cape Wind Energy Project for an additional 30 days. The extension is in response to requests from the public for more time to review the document. The MMS released the Cape Wind DEIS for public review on January 11, 2008.
The Minerals Management Service's 800 page Final Environmental Impact Statement on Cape Wind was released on Friday and in a largely favorable review found nearly all impacts to be negligible or minor.
The few exceptions, where the 130 turbine wind farm would potentially or certainly have moderate to major impact were on birds, especially marine birds such as terns or sea ducks, on navigation and safety of recreational or commercial fishing boats, although those effects could be mitigated, and on visual resources of Nantucket Sound.
The final environmental impact statement for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm will be released tomorrow, according to a notice posted on the Web site of the Office of the Federal Register.
The final report marks a major development in the long-running attempts by Cape Wind Associates, LLC, to build a wind farm in the sound.
With the clock ticking on the Cape Wind decision, American Indian tribes across the nation are lining up in support of the Wampanoags.
The San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona and the 25-tribe coalition known as the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. have both asked U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stop the controversial project.
Massachusetts' top historic preservation officer has dealt a setback to the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm, ruling yesterday that the body of water is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because of its cultural significance for two Native American tribes.
In a letter released late in the afternoon, Brona Simon, state historic preservation officer, said she believes that Nantucket Sound is so culturally important to two Wampanoag tribes that it should be eligible to be listed on the National Register as a traditional cultural property.
"National Grid's inability to provide details regarding the amounts and allocations of these expenses prevents (an) analysis of the appropriateness of National Grid's accounting and allocation of these costs," FERC wrote in its audit.
Auditors "recommended" the utility refund any inappropriate charges - plus interest.
Federal officials on Monday agreed to a request by two Indian tribes for special protections for Nantucket Sound, a move that could delay construction of a proposed wind farm off Cape Cod.
The National Park Service said the sound is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a significant traditional cultural, historic and archaeological property.
WASHINGTON, March 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound:
During five years of debate over the Nantucket Sound wind farm, there have been arguments about cost benefits and national security, bird deaths and spoiled waterfront views.
But when a panel of congressmen meets on Capitol Hill as soon as this week to discuss legislation that could kill the wind farm, the fate of the project may hinge on a single question: Would the turbines threaten navigation on the Sound?
New pressures on the nation's oceans, from wind turbines to fish farms, are increasingly sparking conflicts with more traditional activities such as shipping and recreational boating and show the need for better planning, the head of the agency overseeing federal ocean research services said Monday. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco said the nation should take cues from Massachusetts, the first state to create a comprehensive planning map for its ocean waters.
With a decision possibly looming in the weeks ahead, the proposal to build the country's first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound could face another delay.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Paul Kirk, temporarily filling the seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy, sent a letter to President Obama urging that any decision on the proposed 130 turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound be delayed until a national policy on ocean management and planning is in place.
Cape Wind's project has been rocky, with a vocal opposition expressing concerns about the effect off-shore wind turbines would have on fish and bird populations, tourism and property values and fighting the project in court. It is also the first proposed off-shore wind project in the country, raising many questions about the permitting process.
But whether the situation in Massachusetts will affect Bluewater Wind's project remains to be seen.
"I think it's too early to tell whether it helps or hurts, but any momentum will support additional off-shore wind projects," said Jim Lanard, a spokesman for Bluewater Wind. "We do not expect to run into the major hurdles that Cape Wind has experienced, and therefore predict that our approval process will be considerably shorter than theirs."