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Wind farm review 'rushed'

Several federal agencies that reviewed the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm felt they were "unnecessarily rushed" to finish their work before President George W. Bush left office, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general. ...During the inspector general's investigation, officials at federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Coast Guard said they were rushed in their efforts to cooperate with MMS, according to the report.

Several federal agencies that reviewed the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm felt they were "unnecessarily rushed" to finish their work before President George W. Bush left office, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general.

A final environmental report on the project required under federal law was released by the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) more than a year ago, only days before the changeover to the current administration.

While supporters praised the largely favorable review, opponents criticized it as premature and flawed.

The inspector general investigated the review of the project by MMS after receiving multiple complaints, including a petition-style letter from a staff member of the project's primary opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, and a letter from the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

The complaints ranged from concerns that the type of turbines Cape Wind Associates LLC planned to use in the project were not commercially available to claims that MMS ignored a Federal Aviation Administration finding that the project posed a "presumed hazard."

During the inspector... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Several federal agencies that reviewed the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm felt they were "unnecessarily rushed" to finish their work before President George W. Bush left office, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general.

A final environmental report on the project required under federal law was released by the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) more than a year ago, only days before the changeover to the current administration.

While supporters praised the largely favorable review, opponents criticized it as premature and flawed.

The inspector general investigated the review of the project by MMS after receiving multiple complaints, including a petition-style letter from a staff member of the project's primary opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, and a letter from the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

The complaints ranged from concerns that the type of turbines Cape Wind Associates LLC planned to use in the project were not commercially available to claims that MMS ignored a Federal Aviation Administration finding that the project posed a "presumed hazard."

During the inspector general's investigation, officials at federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Coast Guard said they were rushed in their efforts to cooperate with MMS, according to the report.

"Both agencies indicated that the timeline imposed by MMS pressed them into acting atypically, restricting their ability to be as thorough as they would have liked in conducting such a review," the report states.

But officials at the agencies said they did not believe that "the expedited timeline affected their overall conclusions," according to the report.

Turbine manufacturers contacted by the inspector general's investigator said they would be able to provide the 3.6-megawatt turbines Cape Wind plans to use in Nantucket Sound. MMS officials said only large changes in the size of the turbines would require further review of the project.

The inspector general's report has been forwarded to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has said he will decide on whether to approve Cape Wind by April. Salazar spent Tuesday on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard meeting with Indian tribes. He also toured the location of the proposed wind farm onboard a Coast Guard buoy tender.

In a memorandum sent yesterday to the Interior Department's deputy inspector general, Salazar noted the finding that the conclusions of the federal agencies involved in the Cape Wind review were not affected by MMS's timeline "is particularly important."

"To ensure that our department provides due consideration to your report, I am directing Deputy Secretary David Hayes to work with our solicitor, Ms. Hilary Tompkins, to review the report and provide recommendations to me regarding those issues that are material to the department's upcoming Cape Wind decision," he wrote.

South Yarmouth resident Peter Kenney, whose complaints helped prompt the inspector general's investigation, said yesterday that he was pleased with the outcome. "I'm very happy that we now have on the record beyond any dispute some very interesting facts," he said.

Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said the inspector general's report confirmed what her organization and others have argued for years.

"We should now take the time to conduct an honest and thorough review of this project that seeks to address unresolved issues, including those raised by Native American tribal leaders, rather than sweep them under the rug," she said.

Cape Wind's supporters reacted differently to the report, arguing the finding that federal agencies' conclusions were not altered by the expedited timeline gave the project's review a "clean bill of health."

"We find it really surprising that anyone would say that this project was rushed given the eight years (of review) and counting that this project has gone through," said Sue Reid, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation.

A Cape Wind spokesman said the company was reviewing the inspector general report's findings yesterday and did not have any immediate comment.

An MMS spokesman referred all questions to the Interior Department.


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

FEB 4 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24451-wind-farm-review-rushed
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