Environmental Coalition Seeks More Input on Cape Wind

Six wildlife and environmental organizations requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers establish a working group to assist with the evaluation of a wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts – February 21, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The groups are concerned that the Corps is not requiring sufficient environmental studies of the applicant, Cape Wind Associates. The International Wildlife Coalition, The Humane Society of the United States, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Three Bays Preservation, Orenda Wildlife Land Trust, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society were signatories. The groups are part of the Safe Wind coalition, which launched an informational Web site, SafeWind.info. The groups affirm that wind power is an important source of Renewable Energy that will contribute increasingly to the production of energy in the United States and therefore has the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions, which are harmful to both human health and the environment. The groups state that the establishment of a working group would help fulfill the public participation requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the statute under which the Environmental Impact Statement for the wind farm project is being filed. “NEPA imposes on federal agencies rigorous public participation requirements during the federal decision making process,” the organizations wrote. “Agencies are required to make diligent efforts to involve the public in preparing and implementing their NEPA procedures, including holding public hearings when there is substantial environmental controversy concerning the proposed action or substantial interest in holding the hearing.” The groups suggested that the environmental working group function independently from the Corps. The working group would advise the Corps in determining the required scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and in evaluating the EIS as it is available. Safe Wind coalition groups believe the legal issues surrounding the private use of federal waters have not been sufficiently addressed. They are concerned that the regulatory ambiguity that Cape Wind Associates would exploit to install a marine wind farm in Nantucket Sound could also open the door to offshore aquaculture and controversial liquefied natural gas offloading platforms, oceanic pipelines and other uses. Additionally, because of the groups’ strong commitment to wildlife, they believe that Cape Wind must, at a minimum, conduct the bird-related habitat use studies recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Although these state and federal management agencies recommended both year-round radar and acoustic monitoring and broad-based habitat surveys, Cape Wind has announced that it will not comply with these recommendations. The groups insist that no permit be issued for the development of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound until the issues surrounding regulatory oversight are resolved and the avian studies necessary for a meaningful EIS are completed.
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