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Attempts to Kill the Cape Wind Project March 29, 2006 7:57 AM

Attempts to Kill Cape Cod Offshore Wind Project Could Have Major Implications for Nation’s Clean Energy Future


As you may already know, the Cape Wind project is a 130-turbine wind farm proposed for federal waters in Nantucket Sound. If built, Cape Wind would be the first of its kind in the United States. On average, it could generate enough renewable energy to meet 75 percent of Cape Cod’s daily electricity needs.

Recently, however, this exciting clean energy project has been suffering attacks from an unlikely source—two Alaskan legislators have been trying for weeks to kill the wind farm. The Cape Wind project has already passed regulatory muster by state, regional, and federal authorities. Now, Representative Don Young (R) and Senator Ted Stevens (R) have inserted a clause in the Coast Guard’s authorization conference report that could defeat the Cape Wind project.

The stakes for offshore wind could not be higher. Stopping the Cape Wind project could stifle offshore wind development across the nation.  Especially in the Northeast, offshore wind holds the promise of supplying vast amounts of clean, renewable energy without additional air pollution from power plants.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) supports the responsible development of offshore wind as an economical way to generate clean, renewable energy at an affordable price. Recent findings by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, ISO New England Inc., and the Army Corps of Engineers have supported Cape Wind as a sound development that should be allowed to proceed.

This ploy by Representative Young and Senator Stevens would ban all wind projects within 1.5 miles of a navigation channel. By adding this into the Coast Guard authorization conference report, they conveniently bypass the scrutiny their effort would have received in committee or on the floor.

It is unclear why two Alaskans would take a sudden interest in this Massachusetts clean energy project. Initially, Young and Stevens based their opposition on alleged threats to navigation, and proposed stricter standards for offshore wind farms than those for offshore oil rigs. Thankfully, this amendment was rejected unanimously by the panel’s Democrats. More recently, Cape Wind opponents have falsely claimed that offshore wind projects might somehow disturb military radar signals. But the United Kingdom, after examining this issue in detail, gave the green light for siting wind turbines off its shores.

Along with our allies in the wind industry and the labor movement, UCS is working hard to thwart attempts to sink Cape Wind and to protect other offshore wind development. Letters of opposition to Young and Stevens’ ploy came from such unlikely places as Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), chair of the Senate Energy Committee, who, with his Democratic counterpart, challenged the move on jurisdictional grounds. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who supports the project for the jobs it would bring, has also been activating their members.

Articles in newspapers from Maine to Alaska have raised questions about the Alaskans’ interest in a Massachusetts project. The New York Times, The Washington Post and even the conservative Washington Times have recently run editorials opposing Young and Stevens’ tactics.

So far, Representative Young and Senator Stevens have yet to kill the Cape Wind project. UCS and our activists will continue to advocate for Cape Wind and other clean, safe, affordable, renewable energy projects throughout the country. 


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