Cape Wind Offshore Wind Farm Will Protect Nantucket Sound

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Natural Resources Defense Council. Author credit goes to Kit Kennedy.

Because of its many environmental benefits, the Cape Wind offshore wind power project in Nantucket Sound has won NRDC’s and many other national, regional and local environmental groups’ longstanding support. That project is cleared for take off and can create 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, jumpstarting the country’s nascent offshore wind industry.

But the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a single-issue Cape Wind opposition group that has filed some 13 obstructionist lawsuits against the project over the last 11 years is trying, through its press releases, to claim the green mantle now. The Alliance announced recently that it had filed a brief in one of its long-pending federal lawsuits to stop the project.

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Cape Wind from Craigville, Mass., according to a simulation by the project’s developer. (image via Energy Management)

Usually, filing a brief is not news. But perhaps in response to a new website detailing the Alliance’s strong ties to the dirty energy industry, the Alliance decided to spin their two-year-old case as an “eco-lawsuit.”

There’s a rich irony there. In fact, if you’re interested in protecting Nantucket Sound, you should join NRDC, and many of our national, regional and Massachusetts allies in supporting Cape Wind. So sure are we about these clean air and public health benefits that NRDC, New England’s Conservation Law Foundation, and Mass Audubon, the Massachusetts group dedicated protecting birds and wildlife, applied for and were granted “friend of the court” status in the litigation so that we can defend Cape Wind. We’ll be filing our own brief in December.

Let’s be clear about the project’s many environmental highlights. The most important is this: the Cape Wind project can meet 75 percent of electricity demand for Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket with clean, renewable power, cutting more than 130,000 cars-worth of air- and global-warming pollution. That pollution contributes not only to increasingly extreme weather in New England and the rest of the country, but also to problems such as ocean acidification and rising sea levels. These put at risk the Cape’s many birds, land animals, and ocean creatures. AsMass Audubon has written in support of Cape Wind: “Rising sea levels and severe coastal storms related to the earth’s warming flood low-lying barrier beaches and islands that serve as critical habitat for coastal birds including the federally endangered roseate tern and the federally threatened piping plover.”

Those concerned about the health of Nantucket Sound and its animal and marine inhabitants should know that the project has been held to the highest environmental standards. NRDC has participated in the federal environmental review of Cape Wind, analyzing documents and submitting extensive comments. (We’re no slouches in thewildlife protection department.) Moreover, the project has passed with flying colors environmental reviews from a host of government agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board.

Here’s another of the project’s environmental benefits, one that doubles as a jobs program: Cape Wind can ignite the nation’s expectant offshore wind industry. That industry can provide emissions-free energy, stable prices and good-paying jobs. (Cape Wind alone is projected to create between 600 and 1000 construction jobs and 150 permanent positions.)

We respect the right of others to hold different positions on this issue but all parties need to be forthright about their motivations. We also agree with the Alliance that Nantucket Sound is a national treasure worthy of our protection. Indeed, that’s the very reason why NRDC and Massachusetts environmental groups support Cape Wind. It will help protect Nantucket Sound from the disaster of global warming.

NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.

1 Comment

  • Reply October 21, 2012


    How unfortunate it is that NRDC, CLF, and MA Audubon fail to acknowledge that Cape Wind, EMI has added wind to their fossil fuel portfolio. CLF, in fact, challenged Cape Wind EMI’s bid for a diesel-fired fuel plant next to an elementary school in Chelsea, MA.
    Are we not entitled to a reliable energy source that is commerciallly reasonable? Is three times the current cost for failing technology a good value in CLF’s, NRDC, and in MA Audubon’s view?
    America’s flagship offshore folly Cape Wind is, “discontinued”, “sinking”,
    “shifting”, and “corroding” based on developer’s specifications in the 4,000
    page EIS and in the Construction Operation Plan COP: Audubon has announced that they will implement the Adaptive Management monitoring and mitigation plan for Cape Wind. MA Audubon will count bird carcasses (in the sea?) caused by, and with service funded by, Cape Wind. Mass Audubon’s staff scientists have estimated bird kill in Mass Audubon testimony by Cape Wind as up to 6,600 avian mortalities per year. These groups advocate for the killing of up to 6,600 birds per year by Cape Wind that is in violation of strict liability criminal statutes by 6,600 counts.Page 10: Wind represents a public safety hazard according to the navigators of
    the airspace and waterway most familiar with the Nantucket Sound location’s
    present navigational limitations…their comments:, many conservation groups have lost their way. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is not among these. The more one knows about Cape Wind, the less they support this project. Barbara Durkin

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