"We commend the vision, leadership and action by all parties to this project"
By Walter Brooks
David G. Garman, Under Secretary at the United States Department of Energy, has sent a strongly worded letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging the adoption of the Cape Wind farm project in Nantucket Sound. This Federal Department has been following the development of this project for over three years, and has a greater grasp of it's problems and potential than most other agencies.
"If even a small percentage of this potential is developed, it will help alleviate a variety of energy issues facing our Nation..."
Apparently not a man to mince words, Mr. Garman's opening paragraph states "As the first shallow water offshore project under review in the United States, utility-scale projects like Cape Wind are important to our national interest and a critical first step to building a domestic, globally competitive wind industry. Success in this project could also lay the foundation for a focused national investment to develop offshore wind technology in the coming years."
As one of the seventeen agencies vetting the wind farm, and the one most closely associated with America's energy needs, this letter which the USACE received last week while Mr. Garman was still Assistant Secretary of the department will speak volumes.
A signal from the White House?
Given President Bush's reputation for keeping his administration department heads "on message", and the fact that this letter from an Assistant Secretary was issued long after the close of the USACE's comment period, it is not unreasonable to think this is what The White House wants. In fact, Mr. Garman himself has just been promoted by the White House. His nomination was approved only this week as Under Secretary of the entire U.S. Department of Energy by the United States Senate.
The fact that the Bush Administration's endorsement might embarrass Massachusett's two Democratic US Senators should not be lost on anyone as well. The economics of renewable energy are such that you can make as good an argument for it from liberal, conservative and libertarian points of view.
With New York State rapidly building its renewable energy reputation announcing its largest wind farm to date just west of the Bay State's border, politicians in Boston might soon start worrying about being elapsed by this regional rival. We won the World's Series, but we're about to lose the Renewable Energy championship.
The letter went on to state, "The Department has a strong interest in exploring our homeland energy resources to ensure that we continue to meet our Nation's growing need for affordable and reliable energy. With over 900 gigawatts of potential wind power located in offshore areas adjacent to to major demand load centers, we must work together to tap this resource in a responsible manner."
The emphatic endorsement concluded with the statement, "If even a small percentage of this potential is developed, it will help alleviate a variety of energy issues facing our Nation..."
The US Department letter listed other benefits of the Cape Wind project as:
As if this wasn't strong enough, Asst. Secretary Garman's letter concluded, "Projects like Cape Wind are responsive to the Administration's policy to increase renewable energy development on Federal lands and to reduce air emissions in collaboration with the private section.
"We comment the vision, leadership and action by all parties to this project and their efforts to move our nation toward a sustainable energy future."
Here is the complete text of the letter: