Letter from Greenpeace

John Passacantando: Cape Wind a breath of fresh air

In the Providence Journal on Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I AGREE with Susan Nickerson that Nantucket Sound is threatened by pollution from a variety of sources, ("Striving to give Nantucket Sound special protection," Projo Commentary, Oct. 29). For too long, acid rain has showered Massachusetts's shores, and people on Cape Cod and the Islands have inhaled toxic air from dirty power plants. And Massachusetts knows firsthand the drastic effects of an oil spill -- the 2003 100,000-gallon spill in Buzzards Bay soiled the coast, closed shellfish beds, and killed nesting shorebirds and seals. Meanwhile, we all feel the pain of our country's reliance on foreign oil.

Cape Wind's proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound would be a big step toward ending all these problems. This is why Greenpeace strongly supports offshore wind power for Cape Cod.

For 30 years, Greenpeace has worked to protect the world's oceans. We successfully campaigned to end dumping of radioactive and industrial wastes at sea, helped create a moratorium on commercial whaling, and have played a crucial role in developing other laws and policies that safeguard our oceans.

If Nickerson's organization, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, is concerned about the future of the Cape's waterways, why does it oppose a clean renewable-energy solution in their backyard?

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group recognized by the Waterkeeper Alliance, was formed solely to fight the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm.

The Cape Wind project is undergoing a review that looks at all aspects of the proposal. A draft environmental-impact statement was released late last year. Two years in the making and over 4,000 pages long, it said that the initial analysis had found that the environmental, public-health, and economic benefits of the Cape Wind proposal far exceed any minor short-term environmental costs that may be associated with the project.

Let me say unequivocally that if Greenpeace had any concerns that this project would have long-term consequences for the marine ecosystem of Nantucket Sound, we would be the first to oppose it. We have opposed some wind farms, both on- and offshore, and we will continue to do so when proposals are ill-sited or improper in size and scope. Cape Wind, however, is the right project, in the right place, at the right time.

Unlike opponents of Cape Wind, Greenpeace has firsthand experience with offshore wind. In the United Kingdom -- where Greenpeace worked to develop the country's first offshore wind farms -- fears that the projects would lower property values, decrease tourism, or harm the environment proved unfounded. In fact, because of broad public support, the United Kingdom now plans to build additional offshore wind farms, which will supply 1 in 6 of its households with energy from this clean, renewable resource.

Europe is proof of the benefits of offshore wind power. Now Massachusetts has a chance to experience this.

The Nantucket Sound wind farm would provide 75 percent of the Cape and Island's energy, without emitting asthma-causing pollution, spilling oil in the water, or producing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. In addition to protecting the environment, the wind farm would benefit the Cape's economy, by creating jobs and attracting tourists.

Now Governor Romney, who opposes Cape Wind, is trying to push aside air-quality safeguards to let power plants burn oil if there is a natural-gas shortage this winter. No one would be talking about lowering health standards in the state if Cape Wind were up and running, yet the governor continues to oppose the project.

The Cape Wind opponents would have you believe that to protect the environment, we must oppose the wind farm. But the opposite is true. Global warming poses significant risks for the Cape and Islands. From increasingly frequent and severe red tides to rising sea levels and more intense storms, a warming planet is a big problem for the same beachfront home owners and organizations that oppose Cape Wind.

The environment that is so important to the way of life on Cape Cod is in jeopardy, and projects such as Cape Wind are the solution.

John Passacantando is executive director of Greenpeace USA.

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