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Deck stacked against Wampanoags; For tribe, Cape Wind like bad film

Back in the 1950s, the standard Western movie would include a scene in which some dignitary from Washington would meet with an Indian chief and his council in the hope of resolving grievances that had sent the Indians on the warpath. The other day, we got a replay of that scene when a real-life government dignitary sailed into Nantucket Sound with a group of Wampanoag Indians for the ostensible purpose of resolving their grievances.

Back in the 1950s, the standard Western movie would include a scene in which some dignitary from Washington would meet with an Indian chief and his council in the hope of resolving grievances that had sent the Indians on the warpath. The other day, we got a replay of that scene when a real-life government dignitary sailed into Nantucket Sound with a group of Wampanoag Indians for the ostensible purpose of resolving their grievances.

Then, as now, the squabble was over real estate. Then it was usually about hunting grounds onto which white settlers had encroached. Now it's about the seabed under Nantucket Sound where the Wampanoags' ancestors are buried and where developers want to install 130 wind turbines, all taller than the Statue of Liberty.

This 2010 version of the old Western stars Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who showed up wearing his cowboy hat (yes, really!) to meet with the Wampanoags over what had emerged as the last obstacle to the turbines.

The project, which has been in the works for more than nine years, was on the verge of approval when the Wampanoags started pressing their grievances against Cape Wind.

To... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Back in the 1950s, the standard Western movie would include a scene in which some dignitary from Washington would meet with an Indian chief and his council in the hope of resolving grievances that had sent the Indians on the warpath. The other day, we got a replay of that scene when a real-life government dignitary sailed into Nantucket Sound with a group of Wampanoag Indians for the ostensible purpose of resolving their grievances.

Then, as now, the squabble was over real estate. Then it was usually about hunting grounds onto which white settlers had encroached. Now it's about the seabed under Nantucket Sound where the Wampanoags' ancestors are buried and where developers want to install 130 wind turbines, all taller than the Statue of Liberty.

This 2010 version of the old Western stars Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who showed up wearing his cowboy hat (yes, really!) to meet with the Wampanoags over what had emerged as the last obstacle to the turbines.

The project, which has been in the works for more than nine years, was on the verge of approval when the Wampanoags started pressing their grievances against Cape Wind.

To the casual observer, this is just a clash between culture and progress. It turns out, however, that the Wampanoags have logic, as well as culture, on their side. Cape Wind is, by any standard, a boondoggle that defies economic logic.

In 2008, the Beacon Hill Institute tallied up the social costs and benefits of the project. The social costs consist of the resources that would be used up installing, maintaining and operating the turbines plus a small charge for the negative aesthetic effects of the project, as revealed by a survey of tourists and homeowners. The benefits consist of the savings in fossil fuel consumption, the avoided capital costs of installing gas-fired plants, the health benefits of the reduced volume of noxious pollutants and the benefits of increased energy independence and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. We found that the costs would come to $2.2 billion and the benefits to $1.2 billion.

Why then do the developers want to go ahead? The answer is that they would receive more than $1 billion in subsidies from taxpayers and rate payers, a consideration that makes the project financially viable - or so they believe, anyway.

The Interior Department, which has final say on the project, does not want to be bothered with an economic analysis. After all, the entire green-energy, green-jobs movement by which the Obama administration is enthralled is not driven by facts or logic.

Rather, it is a secular religion, driven by faith.

The Wampanoags believe that they are the People of the First Light who must greet the morning sun from the shores of Cape Cod, their view unobstructed by gargantuan turbines strewn across the horizon. The proponents of wind power believe that they must do anything, however objectionable on aesthetic, cultural or cost-benefit grounds, to appease the god of climate change, with the added inducement that someone stands to make money in the process.

The Wampanoags won a temporary victory when the National Park Service ruled that Nantucket Sound was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately for the Wampanoags, however, the fix is in. The turbines are going up, ancestral burying grounds and cost-benefit analysis be damned.

So it's the same old story. Dignitary from Washington assures Indians that he'll consider their grievances, and the Indians take heart in being heard. Then the same dignitary ignores their grievances and the Indians surrender another piece of real estate. The only difference is that in the Old West, the operative slogan was manifest destiny, not green energy.

Different era, different slogan, same result.

David G. Tuerck is executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, and chairman and professor of economics at Suffolk University.


Source: http://www.bostonherald.com...

FEB 8 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24525-deck-stacked-against-wampanoags-for-tribe-cape-wind-like-bad-film
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