Same old, same old at Cape Cod Commission

The usual suspects were rounded up once again on Monday
Commission, Barnstable, Yarmouth and The Alliance stage a re-run

By Walter Brooks

Like a superannuated Tyrannosaurus Rex with arthritis, the Cape Cod Commission speakers for the first hour droned on as they have been doing for over half the decade reiterating the reasons they oppose the renewable energy project in federal waters in Nantucket Sound.

Jim Liedell, Clean Power Now, read from the Commission's own report:

The Cape Cod Commission's January 16, 2009 Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan states:
- on page 38 "Cape Cod has 59 estuary systems that have the potential to be significantly affected by excessive nitrogen loads" - Cape Wind will reduce nitrogen emissions from fossil-fueled power plants.
- on page 44 "The Cape's sandy soils easily absorb storm water runoff which can contain toxic substances such as petroleum products and heavy metals" - Cape Wind will reduce such emissions from fossil-fueled power plants to storm water.
- on page 45 "Expected sea-level rise in our region will increase flooding" - Cape Wind will reduce global-warming-causing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fueled power plants.
- on page 69 " The United States' dependence on fossil fuels has a variety of adverse environmental, economic and social impacts, and contributes to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. Continued reliance on this resource leaves the Cape's economy vulnerable to global market forces. Use of the Cape's clean energy resources will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, manage energy costs, and decrease reliance on fossil fuel imports for homeowners and businesses. Harnessing these resources will create a stable, sustainable energy future for Cape Cod." - Cape Wind, being the first U.S. offshore wind project, directly mitigates these problems.
- on page 70 "Cape Cod's natural conditions and geography offer opportunities for the production of clean renewable energy. Reliance on wind (and others) may reduce emissions from on-Cape energy providers, provide a buffer against the fluctuations in supplies and prices in fossil-fuel energy markets, and keep more money in the local economy. Increased use of renewable energy technologies and renewable energy systems could help establish an emerging clean-energy cluster as an important component of the regional economy." - Cape Wind is powered by the Cape's free offshore strong, steady wind, and will pay federal and state lease charges.
- also on page 70 "Rising energy costs have direct and indirect economic implications, such as increasing the costs of running a business and a household. Beyond price, Cape Cod's economy could also suffer from pollution, sea-level rise and flooding." - Cape Wind will help in preventing increased prices, pollution, sea-level rise and flooding.
- on page 71 "Cape Cod is vulnerable to the effects of global climate change, including sea-level rise and extreme weather events. To avert these growing concerns, the Cape Cod Commission will take a leadership role in advancing a comprehensive regional energy policy for Cape Cod. The Commission will require the provision of renewable energy generation."
See his description of the Town of Barnstable's Comprehensive Plan at the bottom.
----------------------------------------------
I thus find the Commission's resistance to the Cape Wind project to be troublingly disingenuous.
(See his description of the Town of Barnstable's Comprehensive Plan at the bottom.)

Their reason came down to a single acronym - NIMBY. Among their alarms were these from Barnstable assistant town attorney Charles McLaughlin:

  • It will destroy beautiful Downtown Hyannis.
  • It will send tourists fleeing back across the bridges (they will perhaps flee to Palm Springs to visit their wind farm, the area's #2 tourist attraction).
  • It will be a hazard to the fuel barges bringing #6 oil to Nantucket (while reducing their trips through the canal to the power plant).
  • The work station's food oil will destroy our beaches (but the same amount of diesel fuel stored at Hyannis Marine is O.K.).
  • It is like the hazardous Bio Lab proposed for Boston City Hospital (this one went off the charts and had Cape Wind supporters wishing they had thought to hire this lawyer to speak).
  • Cliff Carroll said we couldn't respond to an oil spill in four foot seas.
  • Charles Gifford of the SSA said the channel would be interrupted and it would affect ferry service (this despite Coast Guard reports to the contrary).
  • Rob Bussiere said European projects kill birds (this despite published reported to the contrary and the endorsement of the Audubon Society.
  • Richard Neitz , President of the Cape Cod Chamber said the project was not consistent (whatever that meant).


E. Suzanne McAuliffe, Chairman of the Yarmouth selectmen, even managed to suggest the project's plan should be redrawn now that our local newspaper has revealed that the transmission cable was 8-feet high (she apparently doesn't read the newspapers regularly).

State Senator Rob O'Leary said there needs to be planning (after seven years and two comprehensive federal studies)

Tom Bernardo (for Rep. Demetrius Atsalis) said that the Commission should protect us from inappropriate development such as Cape Wind.

Dean Melanson, deputy chief of the Hyannis Fire Department, said that he "Learned more today more then I have ever learned about the project", adding the department doesn't  have the resources to handle problems that will happen at the the wind farm (in federal, not town, county or state waters), and that they still have not been communicated with. (This despite the existence of two enormous federal reports on the project and over 5,000 news stories over the past seven years.)

Unreconstructed mugwumps

Sitting in the Assembly of Delegates room, and listening to these angry people as the economy of America crumbled around their unseeing eyes, and listening to their pre-9/11 rhetoric about the pristine waters awash with the effulgence and nitrogen from Cape Cod's pleasure craft, ferries and waterfront homes, was a disheartening experience for the supporters in the audience.

"If the Town of Barnstable hadn't already hired attorney Charles McLaughlin, the supporters should have - he was so ludicrous he literally made the case for them."

One local chamber head who supports the project said, "If the Town of Barnstable hadn't already hired attorney Charles McLaughlin, the supporters should have - he was so ludicrous he literally made the case for them."

This reporter could not stop thinking about how disconnected these bureaucrats were from the reality of 2009 on Cape Cod, until finally two voices of reason and enlightenment arose in the persons of Representative Matt Patrick and Jim Liedell of Clean Power Now.

Mr. Patrick described the Commission's conduct this way, "One needs only to look at the Cape Cod Times editorial today to bereminded of their constant drum beat of opposition for seven years.

"Early on the Cape Cod Times framed the issue for most Cape Codders interms of "Industrial Wind Farm" in "pristine" water, "land grab" etc.They and other anti-wind farm groups appealed to base emotions withfictional information and grossly distorted depictions of theprospective wind farm to arouse opposition."


The anti-wind farm groups appealed to base emotions withfictional information and grossly distorted depictions of theprospective wind farm to arouse opposition.

Clean Power Now's representative, Jim Liedell, simply quoted directly from the Commission's own reports, words which ran in total contradiction to their present costly efforts to delay and stop this renewable energy project. His complete remarks are in the sidebar above and below Mr. Patrick's text at the bottom.
_____

Representative Matt Patrick's remarks

Regardless of all the planning, regulations and laws, a good deal of any project's potential approval is left up to the judgment and subject to the prejudices of you, the people on the Commission. In the end, most of our elected and appointed boards' decisions are subject to the perspectives of the people on them and the frame of mind they have been given by local media and adopted as their own before really hearing the other side fully with an open mind.

Framing the issue in a negative light is exactly what the right wing does on talk radio. They made us believe that "liberal" is a bad word and that all Democrats are all "tax and spend" Democrats. That's framing an issue and if you read, "Don't Think of an Elephant" you will get a better picture of it. Nothing has received more negative framing than Cape Wind.

One needs only to look at the Cape Cod Times editorial today to be reminded of their constant drum beat of opposition for seven years. Early on the Cape Cod Times framed the issue for most Cape Codders in terms of "Industrial Wind Farm" in "pristine" water, "land grab" etc. They and other anti-wind farm groups appealed to base emotions with fictional information and grossly distorted depictions of the prospective wind farm to arouse opposition.

The wind farm has gone through the CCC's EIR right along with the State's and the Fed's EIRs and 13 other entities. They have found nothing damaging to the environment or the economy that cannot be mitigated. The review has lasted seven years and taken longer to approve than most nuclear power plants. This current issue is over the cables and the irony is the CCC just approved putting down more cables to Nantucket.

The County is now trying to get money from the state through the Green Communities Act for the dubious possibility of installing renewable energy on behalf of the towns. Wind turbines are the only renewable technology that can compete economically against fossil fuels. Yet, another arm of County Government, the Cape Cod Commission, was still trying to further delay the most viable off shore wind project in the Nation on the very eve of its final approval by the Federal Government.

The Energy Element of the Cape Cod Commission's Regional Policy Plan states quite clearly.

Cape Cod's natural conditions and geography offer real opportunities for the production of clean renewable energy. Reliance on local solar, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, and bio-energy resources may reduce emissions from on-Cape energy providers, provide a buffer against the fluctuations in supplies and prices in fossil-fuel energy markets, and keep more money in the local economy. Increased use of renewable energy technologies along with a well-trained workforce of local installers and service contractors for conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy systems could help establish an emerging clean-energy cluster as an important component of the regional economy.

Rising energy costs have direct and indirect economic implications, such as increasing the costs of running a business and a household. The large number of older homes in the Cape's housing stock, many of which do not meet current state and national energy code standards, incur even greater energy costs. Beyond price, however, Cape Cod's economy could also suffer if pollution, sea-level rise, storm damage, erosion, and flooding reduce the region's attractiveness as a second home and tourist destination. As an example, the near-complete withdrawal of private homeowner insurance companies from the Cape market has already increased the cost and risk of holding property here...

Finally, Cape Cod is vulnerable to the effects of global climate change, including relative sea-level rise and extreme weather events. To avert these growing concerns, the Cape Cod Commission will take a leadership role in advancing a comprehensive regional energy policy for Cape Cod...

Could anything be more clear? A plentiful supply of electricity at reasonable prices is essential to our current way of living. It is your duty to advance renewable energy projects when they do no harm to the environment or our local economy.

Further questions about the economic viability of the proposed project are not within the EIS purview. The proponent of Cape Wind has invested considerable money in the permitting process so one must reason that he believes he can build the project. If he cannot make a viable proposal to investors, then it will not be built.

I believe that official and formal opposition to Cape Wind should cease because the positive aspects have been proven and pursuing legal action against the project is a waste of taxpayer money. The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board has always been able to override local boards...always. Thank you for considering my comments.

Sincerely,
Representative Matthew C. Patrick
_____

The current Town of Barnstable Comprehensive Plan states:

- Regarding Coastal Resources, on pages 2-46, "Due to global warming, sea level rise of 1.8 to 11.3 feet is projected by the year 2100. Flooding of low-lying areas can be expected as a result." - Cape Wind will reduce global-warming-causing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fueled power plants.

- Regarding Economic Development, in Section 3, on page 1, "The Town needs to encourage innovative and diverse industries" - Cape Wind meets this objective.
- also on page 1 "Annual unemployment percentages are higher in the town than in the county or state." - Cape Wind will provide important jobs.
- on page 2, "The town must encourage development of emerging industries. The town must create an environment more ‘user-friendly' to existing and potential business owners. The town must streamline permitting processes or create incentives to encourage appropriate economic development." - Cape Wind is a means of responding to these planned initiatives.
- on page 5, "the many Barnstable residents consulted during the 2-year planning process asked for continued development of an expanded economic base, and the encouragement of ‘clean, light industry'" Later on page 5, "Goal 3.1 is to provide for the expansion of existing industries and the development of new enterprises that create year round jobs, and new economic opportunities for residents." - Cape Wind meets these objectives.
- on page 9, "ISSUES - Need for a diversified year round economy - The economic development strategy needs to focus on the creation of more job opportunities through both new industries and expanding existing businesses." and on page 11, "Strategy 3.2.2.4 is to identify sources of funding to assist with new business ventures that employ people who are unemployed or minorities" - Cape Wind will create many good-paying jobs requiring a variety of skills.

- Regarding Energy, on page 4-44 "ISSUE - High energy costs - Electricity costs to residential consumers are among the highest in the country. The Cape has averaged the highest fuel oil and gasoline costs in Massachusetts since the Mass. Division of Energy Resources started keeping records in 1980, and natural gas prices per therm are second highest in the country. Goal 4.8.1 includes encouraging and stimulating investment in renewable energy resources" - Cape Wind is very response to these problems and needs.
- on page 4-45, Policy 4.8.1.4 states "Alternate fuels shall be studied for feasibility of use by Barnstable's municipal vehicle fleets. Vehicles could be operated by electricity" - Cape Wind will provide that clean electricity.

The Town of Barnstable will receive $62,000 annually in property tax payments from Cape Wind related to Cape Wind's electrical cables west from Willow Street to NStar's electrical grid connection station between the Hyannis airport and Route 6.

Third, the Town of Yarmouth's rising school and other costs recently forced the elimination of many municipal jobs, including firemen, police and others. Other cost-saving measures included closing one of Yarmouth's three fire stations; one of Yarmouth's three Libraries is changing from municipal to private funding; and reducing many other municipal services. The Dennis-Yarmouth School District plans to eliminate 41 more jobs (mostly teachers) in the 2009-2010 fiscal year beginning soon.

If Cape Wind is built, the company will make payments to the Town of Yarmouth totaling almost $10 million over a 20-year period; the construction of Cape Wind will increase Yarmouth's revenue due to the Town's "Host Community Agreement" with Cape Wind. This agreement requires payments by Cape Wind to Yarmouth of $250,000 annual Tax Payments relative to installation of Cape Wind's electrical cable, $100,000 annual Charitable Gift Payments, and one-time payments of $125,000 to improve Englewood Beach and $25,000 to assure safety during installation of the electrical cables. The annual payments totaling $350,000 will be increased based on the actual inflation rates during each of the 20 years - assuming 3 percent inflation, Cape Wind's payments will total $9,554,631 over 20 years. Ironically, the Yarmouth Board of Selectmen is on record as having voted to oppose Cape Wind. This $9.5 million will significantly improve Yarmouth's economic situation.

James E. Liedell, 148 Kate's Path, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.