“Back Room Maneuvering” Pays Off for Opponents of Cape Wind

After unanimous approval by 17 state and federal agencies over a five year period, the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound seems to have fallen prey to what project developer Jim Gordon has called “back room maneuvering by a bunch of NIMBYs (Not In My BackYard).”

“The opposition is centered around the fact that there are some folks who don’t want to peacefully coexist with wind turbines six miles from their private beaches,” Gordon told RenewableEnergyAccess.com in an interview earlier this week. “The public interest benefits, we believe, outweigh the fact that somebody might not like the way they look or feel that it may degrade their yachting experience. The wind turbines would appear about a half-inch off the horizon, and it would have to be a very clear day for one to even see them.” Listen to the full interview in our podcast. In a convoluted last-minute deal in the U.S. Senate yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a longstanding opponent of Cape Wind, was tentatively given the power block the project. In the event that the project goes forward, Cape Wind would provide clean, emissions-free power to three-quarters of Cape Cod and nearby islands. The final blow came when Republican U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, whom supporters of the project and environmental groups had considered an ally, signed off on an amendment to a Coast Guard authorization bill that prohibits offshore wind turbines within a mile-and-a-half of shipping lanes. Gordon says the amendment, initiated by Senator Don Young of Alaska, is aimed squarely at Cape Wind and will greatly restrict wind farm construction anywhere off the U.S. coastline. Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, Democratic Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and Republican Trent Lott of Mississippi also backed the amendment that blocks Cape Wind. Though the bill and amendment will be subject to voting in the House and Senate and may face strong opposition from renewable energy supporters like Republican Senator Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, environmental groups are saying that Cape Wind will probably not survive the well-organized and well-financed opposition. “By arbitrarily legislating a new barrier on a single project, solely because of local opposition, this provision will impede the development of offshore renewable energy throughout the country,” Gordon said in a written statement. “The only support for this provision is from the local landowner group that has been established to prevent the development of the Cape Wind project, which is located on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound more than 5 miles from any point of land.”
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