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Feds hear closing comments on Cape Wind

The proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm will either make history or destroy it, according to speakers at what could be the last public hearing on the project. Barring a lawsuit sending the project back for more review, yesterday's hearing at Cape Cod Community College's Tilden Arts Center marked the final opportunity for opponents and supporters to be heard on the plan by Cape Wind Associates LLC.

WEST BARNSTABLE - The proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm will either make history or destroy it, according to speakers at what could be the last public hearing on the project.

Barring a lawsuit sending the project back for more review, yesterday's hearing at Cape Cod Community College's Tilden Arts Center marked the final opportunity for opponents and supporters to be heard on the plan by Cape Wind Associates LLC to build 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal in the Sound.

In keeping with the nearly decade-long argument over Cape Wind, the roughly 80 people who spoke before five members of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation came down firmly on one side or the other of the debate.

"It's clear to me that this goes above and beyond any place that should ever be considered for an electric power plant," said George "Chuckie" Green of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.

The Cape tribe, along with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), has opposed the wind farm, saying the 440-foot-tall turbines will disrupt sunrise ceremonies and potentially damage Indian graves and artifacts buried beneath the Sound.

The historic panel was collecting public comment before making... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

WEST BARNSTABLE - The proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm will either make history or destroy it, according to speakers at what could be the last public hearing on the project.

Barring a lawsuit sending the project back for more review, yesterday's hearing at Cape Cod Community College's Tilden Arts Center marked the final opportunity for opponents and supporters to be heard on the plan by Cape Wind Associates LLC to build 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal in the Sound.

In keeping with the nearly decade-long argument over Cape Wind, the roughly 80 people who spoke before five members of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation came down firmly on one side or the other of the debate.

"It's clear to me that this goes above and beyond any place that should ever be considered for an electric power plant," said George "Chuckie" Green of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.

The Cape tribe, along with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), has opposed the wind farm, saying the 440-foot-tall turbines will disrupt sunrise ceremonies and potentially damage Indian graves and artifacts buried beneath the Sound.

The historic panel was collecting public comment before making its recommendation to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who has said he will decide by April whether to approve Cape Wind. Salazar must take the council's advice into consideration but is not required to follow to it, the board's chairman, Mark Sadd, told the crowd.

The Minerals Management Service, a division of the Interior Department, found in 2008 that the wind turbines would adversely affect 28 historic structures or districts, including the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, and one traditional cultural property.

The agency later found that four additional properties important to the Cape and Vineyard tribes would be adversely affected by the project.

The National Park Service in January declared the Sound eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, triggering Salazar's personal involvement in the review.

Opponents of Cape Wind continued to argue yesterday that Minerals Management Service botched the review of the project's historic impacts and that the only way to avoid these effects was to move the turbines out of the Sound.

"It's frustrating for our office that (Minerals Management Service) has told us that they do not have the power to force the developer to change the project's location," Massachusetts Historical Commission executive director Brona Simon said.

Simon and others suggested moving Cape Wind to deeper waters, a proposal project proponents say has been reviewed and determined unfeasible. Opponents have suggested an area south of Tuckernuck Island off Nantucket as a more ideal location for the project.

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Aquinnah tribe, argued the Minerals Management Service had failed to consult with the tribes as required by law and had instead merely "check(ed) the box" in its duty to consider impacts on tribal and historic properties.

Cape Wind's benefits would far outweigh any visual or other effects on historic properties, according to supporters.

The project would help combat climate change and reduce acid rain, which has been proved to damage historic buildings, said Eleftherios Pavlides, a professor of architecture at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.

Jeffrey Madison, a member of the Vineyard tribe who wrote a letter to Salazar earlier this year in support of Cape Wind, asked where the tribes' new-found fans were before Cape Wind became an issue.

"They weren't anywhere around when we were seeking (federal) recognition," said Madison, whose law firm was hired by Cape Wind several months ago. "We could have used their support back then."

Cape Wind has taken samples of the seabed below the Sound and has found no evidence of cultural artifacts but plans to do more sampling before construction, company spokesman Mark Rodgers said.

"Based on all of this, we believe that the concerns regarding the possible existence of submerged archaeological resources have been adequately studied and mitigated," he said.

Richard Bartlett of Cotuit argued along with Rodgers and others that windmills are a part of Cape Cod's history.

In addition, Bartlett added, the heavy boat traffic and large mansions surrounding the Sound make opponents' arguments that it is pristine hard to swallow.

"I think we have an opportunity to make history," said Leslie Miller of Yarmouthport. "Good history, of which we'd all be proud."

But the hearing's final speaker, boat captain and professed renewable-energy advocate Peter Conway, echoed a common refrain from opponents.

"Why are you going to do it on the shoal?" Conway said. "Why Horseshoe Shoal?"


Source: http://www.capecodonline.co...

MAR 23 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/25300-feds-hear-closing-comments-on-cape-wind
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