By Mac Johnson in Energy Tribune, April 12, 2007
"I have to watch my children gasping for air on a bad air day, because somebody gave money to a politician,” environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. once told a crowd of supporters, repeating an attack on the Bush administration and coal-fired power plants that he had earlier issued in Rolling Stone magazine.
Among the many “crimes against nature,” RFK, Jr. listed not only his children’s asthma but also that they could not “enjoy the seminal American experience of fishing locally with their dad and eating their catch” due to the mercury contamination of many waters. Obviously, Robert Jr. is a man who takes the environment personally – although it seems the environment he cares most about is his personal property. Despite fossil fuel’s heavy toll on his family – oh, and the fact he says it is destroying the Earth in general – Kennedy is a leading opponent of plans to build America’s first offshore wind farm.
This project is supported by every major environmentalist group in the country. An official environmental impact study on it could not find a single significant negative result. It would generate 75 percent of the electricity needs of Cape Cod and Massachusetts’ islands without producing any of Kennedy’s mercury, or greenhouse gas.
Yet Robert (and the other Kennedys) can’t find anything good to say about the project. Coincidentally, the “Cape Wind” farm location would be just offshore of the Kennedy family’s compound in Hyannis. The turbines thus constitute a major threat to one of America’s “most important” seashores, a seashore owned by the Kennedys and other super-rich vacationers.
Sure, the air would be cleaner, the Earth safer, the children healthier, the water less threatened by another oil spill from tankers headed to the current power plant – but what about the rich folks’ views?
Utilitarian infrastructure is fine for the barbarians of Sulphur, Louisiana or Pasadena, Texas, but the liberal northeastern elite, in their millionaire fantasyland of Cape Cod, are too precious to be asked to see even the slightest dots on the horizon – which is all the windmills would be, since they’d be six miles offshore.
Protecting’ Nantucket Sound from clean energy
To add the illusion of popular support to the obstructionist cause of a few wealthy whiners, Robert Kennedy, his neighbors, and his uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, have organized the “Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound,” a group that in 2004 drew 62 percent of its $4.67 million budget from just 15 donors. Greenpeace calls the alliance “an Orwellian group” of landowners that are only “‘protecting’ Nantucket Sound from clean energy.”
The alliance has a colorful history. Its co-chairman is Bill Koch, a billionaire oil and coal player, who explained his sudden environmentalism thus: ‘’So what? I’m interested in my view and the value of my property on the Cape.’’ An alliance co-founder, Wayne Kurker, is all for Cape development, as long as it expands his marina and defends against giving Hyannis harbor an “industrial look.” Kurker proposes cigarette boat races in the sound and he wants them protected from windmill noise.
Another co-founder, John Donelan, just resigned from the alliance in disgrace after paying the Cape Wind project defamation damages for issuing forged press releases. The group has also distributed fliers showing Cape Wind windmills close to shore and at triple their actual size, created computer images that misrepresent the project, and submitted a petition to the state containing thousands of fake signatures. Robert Kennedy gave the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound a “Soundkeeper” award for its work.
But the real work to stop Cape Wind is behind the scenes in Congress, where Sen. Kennedy has devised a series of Cape Wind poison pills. The latest is a deal, apparently cut with Alaskan Republican Don Young, to place a measure into an appropriations bill banning windmills within 1.5 miles of a ferry route. Even the New York Times saw through the ruse and issued a February editorial condemning it.
When it comes to the sacrifices that common folk must make to end our “dependence” on fossil fuel, no hardship is too great. Higher energy prices, increased regulation, and direct taxation are just a start. But when it comes to the spoiled Cape windbags, no hardship is too small that they won’t oppose it with all their money and power. The public waters must be protected as their private playground.
This Opinion piece appeared yesterday in Energy Tribune here and is reprinted with permission of the publishers.