President Obama, Ted Kennedy & Wind Power off Cape Cod Massachusetts

After the passing of Ted Kennedy, a detractor to wind generated power on the shores of Cape Cod Massachusetts, it appears as though the projects may be posed for a more formal and thorough review. The Boston Globe scratches the surface this morning with a small online piece called The Cape Wind guessing game: Take two:

It’s time to replay the Cape Wind guessing game.

The proposed 130 turbine farm’s most powerful detractor, Ted Kennedy, was buried this past weekend. Obama came to the Vineyard with nary a word on it.

It’s not Cape Wind: The Deer Island sewage treatment plant recently erected two turbines. (MWRA photo)

Seven years of regulatory reviews have determined that the environmental and other impacts of the farm will be negligible. Still, opponents say there needs to be more review. Barring those, they have promised to hold up the proposed farm’s construction with lawsuits.

Before U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar can give a final word on the wind farm, an outstanding issue about effects to historic and tribal properties has to be worked out.

Does that mean weeks? Does it mean months? How does Kennedy’s death change things? What about Obama’s silence on the subject?

The author, Beth Daley, from the Boston Globe Staff then links off to two separate pieces. The first is an editorial in the Boston Globe, and the second link is a story from the Los Angeles Times on the subject.

There is a growing number of comments on today’s piece from Beth Daley, and the Globe’s editorial piece has some interesting pieces that dissect the politics, ambitions and debate for the projects of offshore wind generation. Here it is in it’s entirety:

AS PRESIDENT OBAMA vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard this week, he had many occasions to look at the horizon. And if he didn’t realize that he was looking at the site of a major dispute over offshore wind power, activists on both sides journeyed to the island to remind him. He should also understand that he can play a key role in resolving it.

Neither Obama nor his administration has yet weighed in on Cape Wind, the controversial 130-turbine wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound that could supply the electricity needs of more than 300,000 homes on the Cape and Islands. If Obama’s pledges for a greener economy are to be kept, his administration should not delay any longer the arduous process that began in 2001 to develop this clean energy source.

The proposed offshore wind project has sustained more than seven years of heated debate; political maneuvering, including some by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, a project opponent; and environmental review. It now awaits a decision from the Department of the Interior — the last major regulatory hurdle its developers must clear for the project to move forward. As the country’s first proposed commercial offshore wind farm, and the only project of its kind this far along in the approval process, Cape Wind could open the door for developers to harness the vast wind energy resource along the nation’s eastern seaboard. The approval could make Massachusetts the trailblazer of a power source that is an essential part of the country’s strategy to address global warming and to achieve energy security.

In January, Interior’s Minerals Management Service, the federal agency charged with assessing Cape Wind’s potential impacts on the environment, published a detailed report that found the wind farm would pose little harm to fisheries, birds, and other wildlife. The agency also concluded that developers could readily address any navigational concerns for ships and planes posed by the 440-foot turbines.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is now responsible for issuing a decision on the project. Salazar, like Obama, has spoken publicly about the importance of offshore wind as an energy source, but has not indicated whether the administration plans to approve Cape Wind.

The wind farm would slightly alter the view of the ocean from certain points on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket; developers predict that the turbines would be visible from Edgartown, for example, as distant white smears on clear days.

Obama may have had time to enjoy the pristine view from the beaches near Edgartown this week, but Americans have run out of time to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to global warming. The administration should not wait any longer to show its support for Cape Wind, a project consistent with the president’s pledge to support clean energy and open a frontier for harnessing wind power.

Finally, the LA Times piece talks more about the political issues at hand, and quotes a number of people who speak out against the projects because of it’s possible impact on the natural environment and landscape of the Cape Cod area.

When the proposal, the first of its kind, was made, there was no government agency prepared to consider its merits or issue permission to begin it. After years of wrangling, that authority rests with the Interior Department, which boosted offshore wind development from federal obscurity to the top of its priorities this year.

Soon after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took office, he began touting the possibility that offshore wind could theoretically provide enough electricity to meet the nation’s entire current demand. He settled a long-running jurisdictional fight with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over offshore power and issued the first federal rules for offshore wind development.

With those efforts, Interior and some local officials say, wind projects are moving closer to fruition off New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island and other Northeast states. But those projects still must clear permitting processes and environmental reviews, and Hayes said none would come online for at least a year.

He also said solar-panel construction could start early next year on tracts of the Southwest the department was pushing hard to lease.

Meanwhile, Interior has pressed ahead with oil and gas drilling on public lands. Through mid-August, it had offered for sale more acres of dry-land drilling than the Bush administration had at the same point in 2008. If not for a court order that blocked a proposed lease sale in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska, the department would be close to Bush’s drilling pace offshore as well.

Republicans are prodding the administration to move faster on every domestic energy front, including windmills, solar farms and more drilling.

Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee chided Obama on an offshore-wind-themed mock postcard released last week in advance of the president’s vacation.

“Don’t let this energy opportunity breeze by you!” they wrote.

Categorized | Energy & Fuels, Wind
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