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Wind farm boost; Time to end tactics of obstruction.

COLULMN: IN OUR OPINION

The Cape Wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound got yet another green light this week. Unfortunately, the politicians and NIMBY groups that have obstructed the wind farm since it was announced in 2001 are unlikely to let facts get in the way of their anti-wind power crusade.

The draft environmental impact statement by the Minerals Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, available on the MMS Web site, runs more than 700 pages. It details the purpose of and need for the wind farm and traces its regulatory history. Among other things, it details plans for: installing foundations and "scour" protection to prevent seabed damage; erecting the 130 wind generators; laying power cables connecting the generators in the array and connecting the array to the power grid; operating the wind farm; and, eventually, decommissioning it.

The heart of the draft report is its assessment of the potential effects of the wind farm (during and after construction) regarding the site, waves and currents, noise, water temperature, water quality, electromagnetic fields, vegetation, wildlife, environmental justice, aviation, recreational and cultural resources, and more. In virtually every category, the agency concluded the impact would be negligible or minor - the notable impact being an effect on sailing vessels the agency judged to be only "moderate."

The clean bill of health from the MMS was a vindication of the report by the Army Corps of Engineers, which in 2004 reached a similar conclusion - although its work was negated in 2005 when the Congress removed the wind farm from the corps' jurisdiction.

The Patrick administration's support of this clean energy project - in the face of opposition from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Rep. William Delahunt and others - holds out the possibility that, by 2010, electricity to fill a large portion of Cape Cod's needs will be flowing into the grid. Based on the history of the project to date, however, opponents still may use local permitting and regulatory procedures to wreak costly, time-consuming mischief.

With crude oil prices hovering near $100 a barrel and the Northeast battling airborne pollutants from coal-fired power plants to the South and Midwest, continued opposition to a project whose chief environmental impact is clean, renewable power - not to mention jobs and economic development in the green-energy sector - is beyond foolish.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 17, 2008
Words:384
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