BOSTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) — A plan to build the United States’ largest offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound, Mass., has suffered another setback after nine years of environmental and political arguments.
Energy Management Inc.’s proposed Cape Wind $1 billion wind farm would cover 24 square miles — an area roughly the size of Manhattan — in the sound.
But the National Park Service Monday announced that the 560-square-mile Nantucket Sound is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
The decision follows a request from two American Indian tribes, the Mashpee Wampanoag of Cape Cod and the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard, who claim the proposed 130 turbines would stand in the way of their spiritual ritual of greeting the sunrise. They say it would also disturb ancestral burial grounds, now underwater.
The late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., whose family compound overlooks Nantucket Sound, was among Cape Cod residents who argued that the turbines would adversely affect the area’s tourism industry and spoil its natural beauty, the Independent reports. The turbines would be visible from the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, both magnets for summer visitors.
Oil and coal magnate and Cape Cod property owner Bill Koch also opposes Cape Wind.
Cape Cod Today newspaper last month said Koch, founder and president of the Oxbow Group, is best known on the cape as chairman of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, an organization it says was formed to fight the Cape Wind proposal.
The newspaper cited a 2006 Forbes magazine profile on Koch, which described his fight against Cape Wind: “Koch has pumped in $1.5 million to an anti-windmill group of which he is now chairman, commissioned several economic studies undermining the idea and assigned his lobbyists to torpedo the plan in Washington.”
Environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council had high marks for Cape Wind, saying the project is “the largest single source of supply-side reductions in CO2 currently proposed in the United States,” Cape Cod Today reports.
U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has called all parties involved in the debate to meet in Washington next week with the aim of settling the issue by March 1, the Independent reports.
“After several years of review, it is now time to move the Cape Wind proposal to a final decision point,” Salazar said in a statement.
“While we found the National Park Service decision disappointing, far more important is that Secretary Salazar has signaled the beginning of his personal involvement in bringing the Cape Wind permitting process to a speedy conclusion,” said Mark Rodgers, spokesman for Cape Wind.
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