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Green vs. green

When it comes to Cape Wind Associates’ plan to create a 130-turbine wind farm on Nantucket Sound, environmentalists not only disagree, some can’t even agree as to whether or not there’s a disagreement.

"There’s definitely a split," says Peter Schlesinger, a member of Clean Power Now, a Cape pro-wind farm group. "I normally contribute to several environmental organizations on Cape Cod, but I’ve stopped. APCC [The Association to Preserve Cape Cod], for example, appears to be in the camp that’s against the wind farm. So in the a last couple of years I’ve stopped contributing to them."


Dan Morast, president of the Cape-based International Wildlife Coalition and a supporter of the anti-wind farm group The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, sees the split somewhat differently.


"The [environmental] activists on the Cape are pretty well aligned," Morast says. "It is the off-Cape environmental groups and conservation groups who jumped on the [Cape Wind] bandwagon. And they’ve done a very poor job of reaching out to us, not the least of which is Greenpeace."


Chris Miller, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace, says calling that a split is inaccurate. He says the major players in the environmental movement are all on the same page


"There is really not a split in the environmental community around this proposal," Miller says. "If you look at the list of environmental... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

     "There’s definitely a split," says Peter Schlesinger, a member of Clean Power Now, a Cape pro-wind farm group. "I normally contribute to several environmental organizations on Cape Cod, but I’ve stopped. APCC [The Association to Preserve Cape Cod], for example, appears to be in the camp that’s against the wind farm. So in the a last couple of years I’ve stopped contributing to them."


     Dan Morast, president of the Cape-based International Wildlife Coalition and a supporter of the anti-wind farm group The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, sees the split somewhat differently.


     "The [environmental] activists on the Cape are pretty well aligned," Morast says. "It is the off-Cape environmental groups and conservation groups who jumped on the [Cape Wind] bandwagon. And they’ve done a very poor job of reaching out to us, not the least of which is Greenpeace."


     Chris Miller, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace, says calling that a split is inaccurate. He says the major players in the environmental movement are all on the same page


     "There is really not a split in the environmental community around this proposal," Miller says. "If you look at the list of environmental groups that are supporting the Cape Wind project, it is a broad coalition of environmental groups."


     Barbara Birdsey, an environmental activist, who is on the board of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, suggests that a split exists within the very organizations that Miller sees as part of a united front.


     "The split seems to be particularly in the larger organizations where they have several departments," Birdsey says. "It seems to come down to those people working on renewable [energy] as their main focus versus those that are working with wildlife protection programs."


     The wildlife/energy divide that Birdsey describes isn’t simply anti-wind farm spin. Schlesinger, a scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center who drives a truck fueled by waste vegetable oil, says he has at times found himself at odds with fellow environmentalists on the issue. He speaks of a close friend and colleague who is opposed to a wind farm on Nantucket Sound.


     "Why? He’s into ornithology and he doesn’t feel that the potential presence of a flyway has been adequately researched in that region," Schlesinger says, describing what he calls the "purist" position as opposed to a more pragmatic view that he refers to as the "fairness" position.


     "I can’t show that enough research has been accomplished. However, if I look at the information that is there and [look at] how many birds have been killed by other forms of wind farm and compare that with the number of birds that get killed by buildings and automobiles and so forth and weigh that with the whole issue of ’do I want to continue breathing what comes out of the Mirant stack,’ I’ll have to say I’d rather be breathing something different."


     Audubon reserves judgment


     The impact of wind turbines on bird populations is a concern of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which is studying the issue. In a statement issued last year, the organization offered support for the wind farm, with reservations.


     "As responsible citizens, stewards and advocates, Mass Audubon strongly supports public policies and private projects that advance energy conservation and efficiency," says Mass Audubon Director of Advocacy Jack Clarke, calling global warming one of the most serious long-term threats to nature,


     He says the Audubon Society supports wind farms as a means of offsetting the damage created through the use of fossil fuels. But, he adds, "we need to carefully consider whether Nantucket Sound is the most appropriate location for a wind farm facility of this scale."


     Clarke says the organization’s main concerns are what effect the turbines would have on the avian population. He says the roseate tern was of primary concern "because they’re listed by the federal government as an endangered species. The secondary concern is over half a million sea ducks that spend half the year on Nantucket Sound."


     Clarke went to Denmark in April to see first hand the effects that an offshore wind farm had on the bird life. Of particular interest were the sea ducks, which are the same species as those on Nantucket Sound.


     "Looking at two years of radar data and first-hand observations [we found that] the winter sea ducks were avoiding the wind farms. There were no adverse impacts [at the two wind farms]."


     None oppose wind power


     Despite the opposition to the Nantucket Sound project expressed by some, there was unanimity when it came to the idea of renewable energy.


     "Everyone in the environmental movement is in favor of renewable energy, That’s like apple pie." Birdsey says. "But it has to be done on a case-by-case basis"


     In this case Birdsey would rather that current energy sources be upgraded.


     "I’m an advocate for making what we already have work better. We should be focusing on cleaning up Canal Electric. That makes more sense than building in an environmentally sensitive area," Birdsey says.


     "Wind power is a very good idea," Morast adds. "The development of a fossil fuel economy was achieved at a horrible cost that we’re paying for today."


     Morast agrees that if studies show the wind farm would not have a significant impact on the environment, he would reconsider its placement on Nantucket Sound.


     "I do believe there’s a value in the pristine area of Nantucket Sound," Morast says. "[But] if they came back and showed that all our fears were for naught and [Cape Wind] was going to come down to five wind towers, then our organization would take a look at where we’d stand on it."


     Miller counters that although studies are still being conducted, a 2 1/2-year study and 4,000-page environmental impact assessment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given Greenpeace confidence in its position. As for the argument that Nantucket Sound is a pristine national treasure, and not the place for a commercial project, Miller says Greenpeace is sensitive to the location of proposed projects like the wind farm.


     "We would not support a project like this in Acadia National Park for example," Miller says.


     "While it is a beautiful place [Nantucket Sound] is a working waterway. The waters are commercially fished. It’s used by three million pleasure boaters a year. It’s crisscrossed by high-speed ferries. There are undersea cables connecting the islands to Cape Cod," Miller says. "That’s one of the reasons we think that the site suits the proposal."


     Morast says that although he’s disappointed with the stance Greenpeace has taken on the wind farm, he still supports them.


     "They’re a great group," he says. "I’ve worked alongside Greenpeace on the issue of whales and whaling for decades. I applaud them for the work they’ve done on so many issues. But not this time."  


Source: http://www2.townonline.com/...

DEC 1 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/562-green-vs-green
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