Offshore, Project Development, Wind Power

Final MMS Cape Wind Review Coming by March

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar this week responded to a determination made by the National Park Service’s Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The finding of eligibility ensures that significant archeological, historic and cultural values are considered in the review of the permit for the proposed Cape Wind project by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and could be a stumbling block for the project if any of these considerations are deemed to great to proceed with project development.

“America’s vast offshore wind resources offer exciting potential for our clean energy economy and for our nation’s efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Secretary Salazar  said. “But as we begin to develop these resources, we must ensure that we are doing so in the right way and in the right places. The Keeper’s finding that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing in the National Register provides information that will help us to undertake final consultations and analysis of potential impacts of wind development on historic and cultural resources in Nantucket Sound.

Salazar also unveiled plans to gather the principal parties involved in the Cape Wind project together next week to consider the findings of the Keeper and to discuss actions that could be taken to minimize and mitigate Cape Wind’s potential impacts on historic and cultural resources. He said he hopes an agreement can be reached by March 1.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) welcomed Salazar’s commitment to getting a final decision on the project and said that the project, if it moves forward would be the symbol of a U.S. commitment to offshore renewables.

“We appreciate Interior Secretary Salazar’s efforts to arrive at a final decision on the Cape Wind Project by setting a deadline of March 1st to conclude the consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act.  We hope that a Record of Decision will be issued by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service soon after these issues are resolved.  Offshore wind remains a very promising source of clean and renewable electricity for the United States, but no project has yet been approved.  Wind energy is a proven method for combating climate change and timely development of offshore wind is an important step for addressing this threat.  It is essential to send a clear message that the U.S. is committed to making offshore wind a reality in order to attract manufacturing facilities and associated jobs to support the industry,” AWEA said in a statement.