Interior Secretary should allow wind farm to proceed

The Washington Post and The Springfield Republican urge Salazar to approve a.s.a.p.

Time to decideCape wind farm's fate
Salazar: Solomon of Nantucket Sound


February 05, 2010, The Republican

In determining the fate of a controversial plan to locate a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has cast himself as Solomon of Nantucket Sound.
   Salazar has wisely stepped in to mediate the permitting dispute between Energy Management, the project's developer, and Native Americans, who oppose the project because it would interfere with tribal rituals that call for an unobstructed view of the sunrise. The secretary gained some credibility on Tuesday when he left his desk in Washington to sit on the bridge of a Coast Guard vessel in the middle of Nantucket Sound to survey the area where the proposed project would be built.
   Salazar's visit - which included meetings with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on a Cape Cod beach and a discussion with the Aquinnah tribe on Martha's Vineyard - comes one month after the National Park Service ruled the area was eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a traditional cultural property.
   We understand the concerns of Native Americans and other opponents who love and admire the beauty of Cape Cod.
    But America's future depends on energy independence - and the Cape Wind project is a step in that direction. The wind farm would supply, on average, the equivalent of 75 percent of the energy needs of Cape Cod and the Islands.
   The project has been twisting in the wind for nine long years.
   Salazar has set a March 1 deadline for the tribes and the project's developers to reach a compromise. But he said he was "not holding his breath on consensus." If the groups can't come to terms, Salazar will determine the fate of the project by April on his own. "The worst thing we can do for the country is to be in a state of indecision, and this application has been in a state of indecision for a very long time," he said.
   We agree. It's time to fish or cut bait.

End the extreme not-in-my-back-yard-ism

February 3, 2010, The Washington Post

LAST MONTH, the Energy Department released a study concluding that wind turbines could power 20 percent of the eastern electric grid by 2024. But if the nearly decade-long fight over a relatively small wind farm off Cape Cod is any indication, a big obstacle will be extreme not-in-my-back-yard-ism.

For nine years, the developers behind the Cape Wind project have jumped through regulatory hoops in hopes of erecting 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, a near-ideal location -- shallow, protected from large waves, close to a large number of electricity consumers and blessed with plentiful wind. At every step, a group of nearby residents -- including environmentalists in the Kennedy family who maintain their complex on the shore of the sound -- have fought to keep the turbines out and their ocean views unobstructed. The latest objection comes from a couple of Native American tribes that prefer to conduct their sunrise greeting ceremonies without windmills in view and that claim that the shallows are a historical site worthy of listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who visited the sound on Tuesday, has given the parties until March 1 to come to an agreement; otherwise he will decide whether the tribes have a convincing case. Even if he gives the go-ahead, there are legal challenges pending.

No matter where you build in the eastern United States, you are likely to mar someone's view or disturb land that some group considers valuable. In this case, the plan's potential benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

The wind farm's developers aim to provide 75 percent of the electricity for the Cape and nearby islands. And the project would be an early test of wind power's feasibility, taking advantage of the area's rare natural setting to push costs down.

The tribes and other locals, on the other hand, would have to put up with windmills many miles offshore. Mr. Salazar should move Cape Wind along.

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