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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Offshore Wind Farm Project Gets Preliminary Approval

The federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of Interior has issued (1-14-08) a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that gives preliminary environmental approval to the proposed Cape Wind Associates wind farm project off Cape Cod. The DEIS concluded the proposal to build 130 windmills across 25 miles of federal waters in Nantucket Sound would pose no major environmental problems. The DEIS looked at water quality, wildlife, air traffic, the fishing industry, recreation and tourism. After a public comment period on the DEIS the MMS will make a final decision sometime in 2008. Public hearings will be held in March in West Yarmouth, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Boston.

Cape Wind would be the nation's first offshore wind farm and is a safe, clean emission free source of renewable energy. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) opposes but Governor Deval Patrick supports the project. Mitt Romney opposed the project when he was governor. The Cape Cod Commission voted on Oct 18, 2007 to deny a buried electric cable for the Cape Wind project that would run from the wind turbines to the shore. This MMS DEIS comes three years after the former Federal lead reviewing agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued their comprehensive review of Cape Wind that found significant public benefits and few negative impacts. AAEA supports the Cape Wind Project and was the only national environmental group to provide testimony at the 2004 Army Corp public hearing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many groups now publicly support the project. In 2005, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board approved Cape Wind's application after a 33-month review.

From the MMS DEIS: 1) Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound is environmentally and economically superior to the alternative sites that were studied. 2) Cape Wind will reduce regional emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 880,000 tons per year. 3) CO2 is a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. 4) Cape Wind will reduce regional air pollution emissions such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that harm human health. 5) Cape Wind will create hundreds of jobs. 6) Cape Wind will provide a needed supply of electricity and improve electric diversification and reliability. 7) Cape Wind will go a long way toward Massachusetts being able to achieve its renewable energy requirements under the State's Renewable Portfolio Standard. 8) Cape Wind will not have major impacts on birds, fish, marine mammals, fishing, tourism, or on sea or air navigation.

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