Cape Wind, The Rule of Law And The Choices We Make

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced that he will make a permitting decision regarding Cape Wind by April. He has requested public comment on the project before February 12. Comments can be sent here and here.

The long saga of Cape Wind’s permitting efforts has proven to be a classic example of how well intended environmental regulations can be abused and hypocritically turned against very environmentally responsible projects.

The story of Cape Wind should be taught in Law Schools as an example of how the rule of law guaranteed by our constitution and precedent in law at least back to the Magna Carta can been manipulated and abused by politically connected cynics.

Starting in 2001, Cape Wind was subject to an exhaustive four year permitting process coordinated by the US Army Core of Engineers under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and involving seventeen state and federal permitting agencies. When the results proved conclusively that the project would have no significant negative impacts of any kind, powerful politicians from both parties got the regulations changed so that the water views from their friend’s mansions on the Cape Cod would not be impacted.

A new regulatory process required the NEPA process to start completely over under the purview of the US Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service. After another four or five years of intense study by multiple agencies, again the project was proven conclusively to have only positive impacts on the environment, on the economy and on our future. The MMS staff and all the reviewing agencies recommended the project be approved.

Recently, project opponents working with members of local Native American tribes have tried to derail the project again claiming that the waters in which the Cape Wind is to be built were once dry land which may contain ancient burial sites and that their religion requires unobstructed views of these sacred waters. It is perhaps telling that these objections were never raised to block marinas, pleasure boats and all sorts of other modern offenses that might blight these sacred views.  And one might also wonder about the religious impact when oil spills have polluted those waters making fuel deliveries to the Cape’s only power plant.

Of course cultural and historic heritage issues are considered fully and very carefully as part of the NEPA review process and should have been raised much earlier. It’s not as if those making these claims were unaware of the permitting process which has now been done twice and which provided them every possible opportunity to intervene in a timely and appropriate manner. What new information is now being brought to bear and why wasn’t it provided earlier? If there is nothing new being presented, then why should the Department of Interior effectively reopen the permitting process to review these matters?

The delay that has already been granted in issuing the permits to build Cape Wind in order to consider these late concerns is the most flagrant kind of abuse of the rule of law that is fundamental to the preservation of our civilized society. If such claims are allowed to derail Cape Wind at this late date, then what is to stop any opponent of any project ever proposed anywhere from hiring a couple of Native Americans after the permitting process is completed to claim the project is on their sacred grounds or blocks their sacred views? What is to prevent anyone alleging any other religious beliefs to assert that anything that they don’t happen to personally like should be stopped in its tracks and claim government protection against whatever may happen to offend their purported religious heritage?

The Constitution grants us all freedom to practice religion as we wish, but not at the expense of the Constitutional rights of others, nor at the expense of the fundamental rule of law in our land.

If we allow the regulatory goal posts to continually shift after a project is proposed, based on arbitrary environmental, religious or any other kind of claims, then we will have all lost the protection of the rule of law that our nation and our prosperity is based on. The corruption inherent in abuses such as that now underway in this obstruction and that which Cape Wind has earlier been subjected to, undermine our freedom and every constitutional protection we are granted as Americans.

Regulators from all the state and federal agencies overseeing this project have done their job very well – twice. From their comprehensive reviews, it is very apparent that the only real issue ever seriously in question is the subjective aesthetic impact of the project.

But the aesthetic question is not a question of Cape Wind vs. a pristine world. The question is far larger than the aesthetic impact of a few wind towers barely visible over the horizon. Like the rest of America, the Cape and Islands need energy. Aesthetic blights from mining, refining, delivery and disposal of fuels for oil, gas, coal and nuclear power plants, and the larger impacts of those technologies on our society, should be given serious consideration in evaluating Cape Wind. The rights, aesthetic concerns and religious sensibilities of those impacted by the entire systems delivering energy to Cape Cod and the Islands must be give equal weight to the concerns of the Cape Wind opponents.

The craziest part of all this is that from the closest shores, Cape Wind will be barely visible just a couple degrees above the horizon, and only on a clear day.

As NESEA’s official organizational position on Cape Wind suggests:

“The choice we face goes far beyond local aesthetics. Will we choose to continue our dependence on polluting fossil fuels from the Middle East? Will we choose a future plagued by international conflict, terrorism and climate change implicit in fossil fuel dependence? Will we choose to forgo a golden opportunity to provide clean energy and good jobs for the region? The real question is whether we will choose a compromised future or the tremendous potential of sustainable prosperity.”

Perhaps those opposing Cape Wind are not willing to make the choices necessary for our nation to remain a free and prosperous. But as a nation, we have real choices to make.

We can choose to get serious about creating clean renewable energy solutions at home and exporting those solutions of peace, hope, and prosperity abroad, or we can continue to waste our treasure and send our troops off to die fighting for oil in places like Iraq. Many Cape Wind opponents say they support renewable energy. But empty words do not solve the problems our addiction to oil has caused. Words alone do not help the families of the brave Americans sent to make the ultimate sacrifice in the Persian Gulf.

Today, wind power is cost competitive with conventional power plants. The wind industry has grown about forty percent each year for over a decade. Wind projects do not cause air pollution or oil spills, and they do not depend on an everlasting stream of imported oil and gas. Cape Wind is as good as any significant solution to our energy needs can possibly be.

A lack of seriousness about developing real solutions like Cape Wind will doom our children to a future enormously complicated by international conflict, climate change, terrorism, diminishing economic prospects and compromised freedom. Our lack of wisdom and vision will cause more brave Americans to die in future wars that could be prevented.

For too long, we have compromised our proud heritage with bad decisions. Our leaders need to face realities that ordinary people see clearly.  We cannot allow our regulatory process to be hijacked and violate the rule of law at the arbitrary whim of a few.

The NEPA process has been followed fully for Cape Wind – twice. The conclusions are absolutely clear.  It is long past time for public officials to act responsibly, put a stop to the cynical games and allow the project to get built.

Building Cape Wind will be a symbol of our commitment to the rule of law and our commitment to a peaceful and prosperous future.

Please make sure Secretary Salazar hears from you.

Cape Wind and NESEA Historical Context:

Back in 2001, as the NESEA Board of Directors was exploring the priorities of the organization, then NESEA Treasurer Tom Hartman brought the discussion into very clear focus when he suggested: “For now, NESEA should have three priorities – Cape Wind, Cape Wind and Cape Wind”

A couple years later I was privileged to chair a subcommittee of the Board drafting the following official NESEA Board position document on Cape Wind, which was unanimously endorsed by the Board, signed by numerous prominent NESEA members and presented as testimony at Army Corp of Engineers hearing in December 2004:

Northeast Sustainable Energy Association Urges Strong Support for Cape Wind

For over thirty years, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association has been promoting real solutions for a better energy future. In our view, Cape Wind is the most important and positive energy development ever proposed in the Northeast.  We urge you to support Cape Wind.

The US Army Corp of Engineers’ comprehensive three year project review involved seventeen federal and state regulatory agencies and resulted in the Cape Wind Draft Environmental Impact Statement. By all criteria these agencies studied, Cape Wind is overwhelmingly positive, with no significant bird, navigational or ocean ecosystem impacts. They have concluded that Cape Wind will provide significant environmental benefits by offsetting other major sources of pollution, while stabilizing electricity pricing and reliability for the region by reducing dependence on imported fuels. And Cape Wind will help create new jobs and new economic opportunity for southeastern New England.

The Cape Wind turbines will provide the equivalent of seventy five percent of the electrical power needs for Cape Cod and the Islands, while producing no emissions or pollution. From the closest shores they will be barely visible on a clear day, just a few degrees above the horizon.

In an era of rapidly rising world wide demand for energy, we must make real choices.  Wind power is an established and reliable solution. It is the fastest growing energy source in the world.  Wind is the lowest impact and most cost competitive energy source available. Yet some local opponents are still trying to stop Cape Wind. The environmental impact studies have shown their concerns to be generally unfounded. The only issue seriously in question is the subjective aesthetic impact of the project.

Like the sailing ships that brought prosperity to New England with their graceful beauty in earlier times, modern wind turbines are an elegant solution for today. Worldwide, in nearly every locale where wind power is in widespread use, the aesthetics of wind generators find overwhelming acceptance. Locally, in the town of Hull, Massachusetts, a wind machine located right on the shore has been embraced.  A huge majority of the townspeople want to build more.

Nantucket Sound has been polluted by spills from oil tankers bringing fuel to the power plant on Cape Cod Canal.  Other areas have also been polluted in providing power for Cape Cod and the Islands.

Ignored in most discussions of Cape Wind are the real alternatives and the aesthetic impacts of oil, gas, coal and nuclear power plants. Aesthetic blights from mining, refining, delivery and disposal of fuels for these plants, and the larger impacts of those technologies on our society, should be given serious consideration in evaluating Cape Wind. Current energy use patterns will lead to more environmental degradation, international tension and economic uncertainty.

The choice we face goes far beyond local aesthetics. Will we choose to continue our dependence on polluting fossil fuels from the Middle East? Will we choose a future plagued by international conflict, terrorism and climate change implicit in fossil fuel dependence? Will we choose to forego a golden opportunity to provide clean energy and good jobs for the region? The real question is whether we will choose a compromised future or the tremendous potential of sustainable prosperity.

The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association chooses sustainable prosperity, and we urge you to do the same.

Comments

  1. Robert Riversong says:

    Your indignation at the abuse of the regulatory process by those with wealth and political clout is appropriate. And it does seem that the Native American claims may be part of this manipulative process.

    But we have to be very wary of over-riding legitimate indigenous concerns, given our long history of genocidal abuse of the land’s original inhabitants and theft of their territory and resources. If there is doubt, the scales should fall on the side of Native rights.

    You’re mistaken that the Constitution grants us the right to impose statutory law upon what the Founders called natural law, from which religious freedom sources its authenticity. It was accepted from the birth of this nation that there is a higher law than the law of man. Let us never forget that in our pursuit of a better world.

  2. Fred Unger says:

    Robert,

    You are right that my choice of language was poor. As you suggest, rather than granting us rights, the Constitution preserves what the founders perceived to be the natural rights of man by prohibiting government from encroaching on those rights granted by the law of nature. That is not an insignificant difference. There is an interesting editorial published today on these issues, written in response to the recent Supreme Court decision. http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/a-few-reminders-for-the-constitutionally-challenged-83191882.html

    While it is clear to me that that the Laws of Physics work far more effectively than Congress, for example, I am personally agnostic regarding the more unknowable aspects of what some describe as the laws of nature and others describe as God’s laws. With all due respect to sincere people of faith of all kinds, in my view, the primary cause of wars, genocide and injustice throughout history has been when one group has claimed to have a special relationship to what you describe as “a higher law than the law of man”. It was people who felt that they had a special relationship with God’s “higher laws” that carried out the injustices to our nations original inhabitants. Similar injustices continue today claiming religious justification. Whether it be Christians, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans or any others claiming special connections to a “higher law”, it always ends up being an excuse to abridge the rights of others, too often in horrific ways.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to matters that mere mortals have to decide, our liberty, which the founders so cherished, can only be preserved through due process and the imperfect “laws of man”. If we abandon those, we are well on the way to another injustice.

    New injustices are not the way to ameliorate past injustices. Imperfect as the laws of man may be, the rule of law is fundamental to any hope we may have for a better world.

    Fred

  3. Barbara Durkin says:

    I am a Central Massachusetts resident who has closely studied and participated as a private citizen in the Cape Wind energy project review for seven years.

    During these seven years, I’ve not read a more poorly informed, arrogant, and offensive article than ‘Cape Wind the rule of law and the choices we make’.

    Cape Wind does not qualify for an OCS Lease under the Final OCS Rules “Lease” section. As Cape Wind “must” demonstrate technical and financial ability to construct Cape Wind. The GE 3.6 MW wind turbine specified by Cape Wind is “discontinued” as the entire focus of the MMS draft EIS 4,000 pages; carried forward in the Final EIS 4,000 pages.

    Cape Wind does not have a manufacturing source for their wind turbines, or a power purchase agreement, or project financing. Cape Wind is not qualified for an MMS lease under the OCS Final Rules “Lease” section and that applies to them, according to MMS.

    MMS Final OCS rules (page 47)

    “Based on comments received on the NPR, MMS added a requirement to this section that in order to qualify to become a lessee or a grant holder, the applicant must demonstrate technical and financial capabilities to construct, operate and maintain, and terminate/decommission projects for which you are requesting authorization.”

    http://www.mms.gov/offshore/AlternativeEnergy/PDFs/AD30RenewableEnergy04-22-09.pdf

    Cape Wind siting in the Important Bird Area IBA Nantucket Sound as a migratory flyway with endangered species present is in conflict with Best Science as the federal government’s 2003/05 wind turbine siting guidelines. Cape Wind represents immitigable harm to federally protected birds like the roseate tern and the piping plover; the evidence:

    http://bjdurk.newsvine.com/_news/2009/03/11/2534556-dear-secretary-salazar-please-do-not-sign-off-on-cape-wind-

    Cape Wind represents a public safety hazard as proposed for Nantucket Sound according to the experts of aviation, navigators, Tribes, fishermen and women most familiar with its present limitations; their testimony:

    http://bjdurk.newsvine.com/_news/2009/09/19/3290406-cape-wind-a-public-safety-hazard-proposed-for-nantucket-sound-

    Cape Wind would not provide a fair return to the Nation(s) for the use of our resources as it is “not economically viable” even AFTER public subsidies (US EPA Cape Wind MMS FEIS comments 2/17/09):

    http://bjdurk.polls.newsvine.com/_news/2009/02/05/2400385-even-rich-nimbys-cant-afford-cape-winds-energy

    “MMS has failed its trust responsibility,” said Cedric Cromwell, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council. And, my first hand knowledge is that the U.S. Office of Inspector General is investigating MMS review of Cape Wind for this and other reasons.

    The tribes make no apologies for doing all they can to protect a view “that is essential to our spiritual well-being,” said Bettina Washington, historic preservation officer for the Aquinnah tribe.

    “I believe in wind energy, and clean energy is important,” Cromwell said. “There are alternative sites out there.”

    Will President Obama and Secretary Salazar keep promises and respect treaties and laws that protect Native Americans? As President Obama has made a commitment to fully consult and collaborate with Native Americans on federal decisions.

    http://www.ncai.org/Nation-to-Nation-The-United-S.447.0.html

    Cape Wind, LLC has no incentive to act in good faith by relocating their project to a less dangerous and conflicted location as they have a “no bid” deal where a data tower exists in Nantucket Sound.

    If Governor Patrick did not change the oldest law of its kind in the nation, Chapter 91 Public and Waterway Protection Act, Cape Wind would face a variance that many, including Cape Wind, have reported would be very difficult to obtain. And, this happened during the Cape Wind review process.

    The MMS draft and and final EIS white washed the testimony provided. It does not reflect harm to fishing trades, migrating and endangered birds. And if you take the time to familiarize yourself with the testimony provided in my links, you will see that 1.4 vessel strikes per year are anticipated if Cape Wind is constructed.

    NEPA provides assurance of public safety as does Section 388 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. If for no other reason, Cape Wind should not be issued a lease in conflict with public safety. Are you even aware that Cape Wind is an FAA Presumed Hazard, and that all three local airports’ officials have strenously objected to Cape Wind even before this determination?

    If federal and state laws are observed, Cape Wind will not be issued a lease. Your suggestion that Cape Wind could be cost effective is not only in conflict with MMS and U.S. EPA, but in conflict with reality.

    Go identify the wind turbine that Cape Wind intends to use for their project, and get back to us when you know what you speak.

    Sincerely,

    Barbara Durkin
    Central MA

  4. Ms. Durkin,

    If any of my comments have offended you or anyone else in any way, please excuse me. That was most certainly not my intent.

    I wanted to be clear that we will all suffer a deprivation of our liberty if we allow the regulatory goalposts in permitting projects to continually move at the whim of project opponents. There has to be both a fair permitting process and a clear end to that process. I am merely advocating that we adhere to the rule of law.

    I do not have the time, nor am I qualified to address every issue in the permitting of this project in detail and I have not followed every detail of the long Cape Wind permitting process as carefully as you apparently have. However, knowing fairly well the intense scrutiny the project has had through state permitting reviews, as well as through two federal NEPA permitting processes, I do know that all the issues you have raised have been very thoroughly considered in the permitting process. Despite the very well organized and very well funded opposition to this project, despite all the expert testimony in opposition, and though you may not agree with them, the Federal Environmental Impact Statement is clear in its findings.

    If after all the careful scrutiny this project has received, Secretary Salazar were to overrule the findings of two Federal NEPA processes and the Final Environmental Impact Statement, I for one would be concerned for the liberty of all Americans.

    Respectfully,

    Fred Unger

  5. Barbara Durkin says:

    Thank you for your response, Mr. Unger.

    Q:

    Exactly what is being scrutinzed by ALL 17 Agencies involved in the state and federal Cape Wind NEPA environmental review processes?

    A:

    The cost v benefits and adverse impacts of the “Proposed Action” as the installation of 130 GE 3.6 MW wind turbines in Nantucket Sound.

    Cape Cod Times, September 25, 2008: ‘GE may change Cape Wind direction’

    “General Electric — identified earlier as the prospective supplier of wind turbines — appears to have dropped the 3.6-megawatt model Cape Wind had hoped to use, said Rodney Cluck, Cape Wind project manager for U.S. Minerals Management Service.”

    “In documents filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Massachusetts environmental officials before 2005, Cape Wind officials listed the GE model as the turbine they had planned to use for the project, Cluck said.”

    http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080925/BIZ/809250310/-1/NEWS

    Cape Wind Energy Project
    Draft Environmental Impact Statement
    January 2008
    Bookmark 2.0 “Description of Proposed Action”
    (see top of page 69-70 where Cape Wind identifies GE 3.6 MW wind turbines will be used)

    http://www.mms.gov/offshore/renewableenergy/DEIS/Volume%20I%20-%20Cape%20Wind%20DEIS/Cape%20Wind%20DEIS.pdf

    A careful read of the above should indicate to you that MMS, with Rodney Cluck as Cape Wind project manager, is pointing his finger at USACE. But, under Rodney’s watch, the 4,000 page DEIS carried forward to the final EIS focus is on an obsolete and “discontined” GE 3.6 MW wind turbine that is Cape Wind. MMS did not come forward with this information on their own, underfunded citizens, like me, prompted this reporter’s inquiry.

    One more point…MMS identified “Key Partner” in the Cape Wind NEPA review is MA Audubon. NEPA analysis should avoid taking on a project advocacy position, yet MA Audubon offers their “support” for Cape Wind with a condition. That is agency acceptance of a contract called adaptive management funded by Cape Wind. However, the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife under the the ESA Section 7 review process states that AM monitoring mitigation post construction is doomed to failure. And, AM is handled by service contract worth about $8 million over the term prescribed by MA Audubon.

    The President of Mass Audubon, Laura A. Johnson, submitted Mass Audubon’s comments on the Cape Wind DEIS on February 23, 2005; New England District — Reference File No. NAE-2004-338-1, EOEA No. 12643:

    “By utilizing other bird mortality data provided in the DEIS, Mass Audubon staff scientists arrived at avian mortalities that ranged from 2,300 to 6,600 collision deaths per year.”

    http://www.massaudubon.org/PDF/CapeWindDEIS.pdf

    That’s approximately 6,600 violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act MBTA, a strict liability criminal statute, by Cape Wind per year; with endangered species present and protected by the Endangered Species Act.

    Who is Cape Wind, EMI, UPC, Wind Management, LLC, Wind Partners, LLC? There’s been no bidding process, so Cape Wind has not been vetted in the interest of the environment and citizens now assuming unacceptable related risks.

    I’m advocating for the rule of law as well as a fair and transparent NEPA environmental review process, while not so effectively it seems.

    Thank You,

    Barbara Durkin

  6. Fain Gildea says:

    “The delay that has already been granted in issuing the permits to build Cape Wind in order to consider these late concerns is the most flagrant kind of abuse of the rule of law that is fundamental to the preservation of our civilized society.”

    The United States Minerals Management Service (MMS) delayed consultation regarding cultural matters to the end of the review of Cape Wind almost guaranteeing the inevitable backlash against tribal religious cultural concerns. MMS has known for decades that cultural historic resources exist in the shallow waters of Nantucket Sound and the Tribes have been on record regarding their concerns for years.

    As federally recognized tribes, Mashpee and Aquinnah are legally entitled to consultation about their religious cultural practices through appropriate research and field investigations in the review of Cape Wind. This is a rule of law, too but one that you conveniently dismiss by the disrespectful comment “any opponent of any project ever proposed anywhere from hiring a couple of Native Americans after the permitting process is completed to claim the project is on their sacred grounds or blocks their sacred views?”

    “Building Cape Wind will be a symbol of our commitment to the rule of law and our commitment to a peaceful and prosperous future.”

    Honoring tribal religious cultural rights would be a symbol of our commitment to the rule of law as well, only the symbol would be for all American, even its native people.

  7. Fred Unger says:

    Fain,

    You are absolutely right that these matters require a full and careful hearing and that the Mashpee and Aquinnah tribes official representatives as well as any individual tribal members wishing to testify deserve to be heard fully in the NEPA process. That is indeed the law.

    Knowing how long the NEPA processes took in this instance and how carefully most such processes are administered, I am surprised to hear that those testifying do not feel they had adequate opportunity to do so.

    My comments are most definitely not intended to question in any way the rights of the Mashpee and Aquinnah tribes to have their views considered fully. As you suggest, honoring the rights of the tribes is a critically important aspect of the rule of law in our nation. But those rights, or the rights of any other ethnic or religious group, do not trump the rights of others. As I suggested originally, the rule of law breaks down entirely if any person or group can come in after the permitting process has closed claiming special prerogative to stop projects they don’t like.

    There has to be a point where the permitting review process ends with a final determination. By law in this instance, that point is the issuance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

    Respectfully,

    Fred Unger

  8. Fain Gildea says:

    Fred,

    Thank you for your reply.

    Federal agencies routinely engage in meaningful consultation with Indian tribes early on in any NEPA process in order to fulfill the special trust responsibility the United States owes Indian tribes. While the frustration of stakeholders regarding the already lengthly review process is understandable, the irregular and irresponsible way MMS conducted the review in Cape Wind created the problem, not the tribes. Proponents of Cape Wind seem to disregard this fact as well the fact that this is a sweetheart deal in favor of a private corporation.

    How is the rule of law advanced when a corporation is able to obtain our public resources without an open and fair bid process?

  9. Fred Unger says:

    Fain,

    Our economy and our constitution presumes a system of free enterprise by private parties, so the suggestion that something is wrong with this project because Cape Wind is a private company seems pretty far fetched to me. Who owns all those marinas on Nantucket Sound? Who owns the fishing boats who harvest our common waters? How were their permits to do what they do established? Were those processes any more rational? Private companies own the vast majority of the energy infrastructure in our country. As far as I am concerned, that’s as it should be.

    Cape Wind applied to build this project using the rules that were in place at the time they applied. Changing the rules in the middle of the process is a clear abuse of the regulatory system that has already been done once in this case at the request of very powerful politicians who had very personal agendas in opposition to the project.

    I applaud your advocacy for better means for making these decisions for future projects. Throughout the northeast, states are trying to sort out how to best develop our offshore wind resources in the future.

    For other projects in the future, I fully agree with your suggestion that the best solution would be a fair and open bid system similar to the system that MMS uses to lease offshore oil drilling rights. We also need a far more efficient, faster and less expensive permitting process.

    In the mean time, in any fair and just society, project proponents need to be able to depend on regulators enforcing the rules as they exist at the time of a permit application and not keep moving the goal posts.

    No regulatory process will ever be perfect. It is hopefully reassuring to everyone that the results of both the original EIS from the Army Corp of Engineers and the Final EIS from MMS both came to the same unanimous conclusion of all the regulatory agencies involved in the review.

    You are absolutely right that we need better systems for allocating offshore wind development rights in the future. We also need a far more streamlined and effcicient permitting process for future projects.

    But for Cape Wind, the results of the entire NEPA process are clear. Its time to build Cape Wind now.

    Fred

  10. coolbreeze says:

    “so that the water views from their friend’s mansions on the Cape Cod would not be impacted.” Really? and that doesn’t matter because why?

    Why is this is the ONLY place on earth, in all the oceans, that HAVE to have this poorly designed business venture out their back window?

    You know, I don’t have a mansion in Martha’s Vineyard, or anywhere else for that matter, but I find it frustrating that you dismiss peoples objections as unimportant.

    This is a story about bad “business design” – the people in the region don’t want it there – fine – the ocean is vast why not take it somewhere where it is appreciated – heck maybe even subsidized? Does this really have to be the last stand for the environmental movement?

    Just move on and be done with it already, jeez

  11. coolbreeae says:

    oh, and one other thing – Mr. Unger, I want the come to Nantucket and build a privately funded nuclear plant. Lets assume I’ve greased the right palms to get permits, will you now valiantly fight against my critics as an “example of how the rule of law guaranteed by our constitution and precedent in law at least back to the Magna Carta”?

    no? whats the difference?

    oh, thats right you don’t want it there. So shall we dismiss your complaints as the product of “manipulated and abused by politically connected cynics”.

    its bad design, poor business prospecting and unpopular – just move on.

  12. Fred Unger says:

    Coolbreeze.

    I am not dismissing anyone’s objections as unimportant in any way at all. I am merely suggesting that while everyone’s personal opinion is important, the fair and just enforcement of the law is more important. Wealth and political connections shouldn’t make it possible to have regulatory laws overturned in the middle of a regulatory process because the process isn’t going the way the powerfully connected folks would prefer. And while the Mashpee and Aquinnah tribes currently objecting to Cape Wind absolutely have a very important right to have their concerns heard in the regulatory process, their rights are not more important than the rights of other Americans either.

    As Dr. Martin Luther King argued so eloquently, we all have equal rights. And we should all be subjected to the enforcement of the rule of law with as much equality and justice as those charged with enforcing those laws can provide.

    The reality is that numerous polls have shown the vast majority of people in the region do want Cape Wind built. There is only a very small vocal minority in opposition.

    I agree with your conclusion 100%. The permitting process for Cape Wind is finished and the conclusion couldn’t be more clear. As you suggest, it’s time to “move on and be done with it already”. It’s time to build Cape Wind.

  13. Barbara Durkin says:

    I agree with your stated position, Mr. Unger:

    “Wealth and political connections shouldn’t make it possible to have regulatory laws overturned in the middle of a regulatory process because the process isn’t going the way the powerfully connected folks would prefer.”

    Boston Globe
    December 11, 2007

    ‘Changes may buoy Cape Wind project’
    “Patrick seeks to alter state law”

    “Governor Deval Patrick’s administration proposed several changes to state environmental-protection laws yesterday that could help speed construction of offshore wind-power farms, including the controversy-plagued Cape Wind project that Patrick strongly backs…”

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/12/11/changes_may_buoy_cape_wind_project/

    http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/environmental_law/2009/01/cape-wind-contr.html

  14. In all the pro-con shuffle, what both sides of this argument seem to be missing is the fact that Cape Wind will be an enormous transfer of public monies into the pockets of a private developer, building on public land, with an enormous public impact to the bread-and-butter tourism trade of almost a dozen towns.

    All for a project where the developer (Cape Wind) has yet to disclose financial data on cost/benefit and impact on ratepayers.

    As somebody who lives on Cape Cod, I really don’t care about birds, flicker, and can learn to live with the sight of turbines off in the distance on clear days the same way we’ve all learned to pretend we don’t see telephone poles lining our roads. However, what really bothers me is the pork-giveaway of MY tax dollars into the hands of a private developer, and then the second goad of being forced to actually BUY higher-than-the-national average electricity to this same private developer.

    Now … if MY money and MY increased electric bill was all going to support a bunch of turbines erected and owned by MY town or MY state … that would be a different story. Build a few, kick the tires, see how they work and, if a good deal, invest in a bunch more. If not, still build some more because it’s a good insurance policy against Middle East price instability, but put the bulk of your renewable budget elsewhere.

    However, Deval Patrick, Salazar, and Obama are so busy lining big business pockets and ramming this thing down people’s throats that they’re ignoring legitimate questions about the feasibility of this monstrosity.

    Let’s all pool our resources, build as many of these big turbines as possible, and give oil-sponsored terrorists the proverbial “bird,” but let’s NOT turn this into a big pork giveaway to big business while shifting all the burdens (and none of the benefits) to the taxpayer.

  15. Barbara Durkin says:

    Exactly, Anna! With Cape Wind, all benefits extend to this publicly subsidied project proposed for public lands. All adverse impacts by Cape Wind would be actual, yet the benefits extended to consumers are mythical. This stalking horse, Cape Wind, is using the business model of Enron.

    CEO from Enron Corporation Ken Lay’s public policy analyst and speech writer, for 7 years, was Robert Bradley.

    “Lay, he said, jumped on the global warming bandwagon in the late 1980s because it played into Enron’s natural gas business. Likewise, he championed electricity deregulation and other alternative fuels such as wind power.

    Lay’s strategy, Bradley said, was to get government to create lucrative markets that Enron could dominate, while dressing them up with a combination of environmentalism and capitalism.

    He sees the same thing happening with the clamor for wind power.”

    http://blogs.chron.com/lorensteffy/2008/06/enrons_ghost_ca_1.html

    Corporate social conscience is an ideal. What benefits did Enron extend to society?

    http://www.masterresource.org/2009/12/power-politics-enron-lives/#more-6063

    The Harbinger…

    NextEra is the current name for the FPL Group’s unregulated subsidiary once called FPL Energy.

    FPL Group was THE largest owner of “wind farms” in the US that had so many tax breaks — primarily from “wind farms” — that the whole FPL Group didn’t have to pay any federal income tax on its billions in profits.

    ‘Nextera told by 400 at meeting to Leave Town!”

    http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/nextera-told-by-400-at-meeting-to-leave-town/

  16. From my windows here in Adams Ma I can see the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial tower atop our highest peak, Mt Greylock..not a bad sight but bird deaths do occur there as a result of its unnatural prominence above the tree line. Three utility line cuts (scars if you will) on the Hoosac Range to the east are visible. There are now several turbines visible in other parts of the Berkshires. These mtns. were sacred places to native american tribes , now gone in this region. The mountain ash and sugar maples are stressed here now as a result of fossil fuel emissions particularly those from coal fired power plants.

    I’ve had the privilege to sail near where Cape Wind will be several years ago and noted lots of power boats, pleasure craft, burning fossil fuel at Horseshoe shoals and smelled their fumes and seen their petroleum stains on the water.

    Its sad to hear today of the deaths and injuries from the Middletown CT Gas power Plant explosion. How soon will we hear that tritium contamination in ground water has reached the Ct river from the Vernon VT nuclear plant?

    If the perfect is the enemy of the good , then the fair is the enemy of the poor. Perhaps the Cape Wind project may be a “good” but it is certainly the “fair” given the poor choices we accept for energy use and supply. Fred Unger- thanks for your thoughtful analysis and respectful replies urging those opposed to Cape Wind to get priorities in the right order.

  17. While Fred and I have had our share of differences over the last couple of decades, I totally agree with him when he cites the official NESEA position that states:

    “The choice we face goes far beyond local aesthetics. Will we choose to continue our dependence on polluting fossil fuels from the Middle East? Will we choose a future plagued by international conflict, terrorism and climate change implicit in fossil fuel dependence? Will we choose to forgo a golden opportunity to provide clean energy and good jobs for the region? The real question is whether we will choose a compromised future or the tremendous potential of sustainable prosperity.”

    Security vs. Aesthetics is one of the best arguments I have heard to allow this project to go forward as I do believe that security, in all its many forms, has to be strongly considered in judging not only this project but additional projects to come.

    Danger to migrating birds is certainly a consideration but the ensuing environmental damage and security implications by staying on fossil fuels may dwarf that. If I remember correctly, wasn’t there was an unfortunate episode in the mid to late 1990′s when about 98,000 gallons of #6 oil spilled into Buzzard’s Bay? I would suppose this would not be too good for wildlife either and must be considered as the unconscious choice that is made when renewable projects such as this are opposed.

    In the last few days the US Department of Defense came out with their most recent Quadrennial Review that sets the tone for defense policy for the next fours years. In it, they specifically mention climate change as a factor that must be considered at several different levels including the potential to be the impetus for increased conflict. With that in mind, I think it is time to move Cape Wind forward rather than become involved in yet other “discretionary” wars which there is still time to avoid.

  18. John Jacobson says:

    Wow,

    Fred as usual you have managed to hit a nerve. I have to admit I read about half of this thread and burned out.

    It made me wonder why coal, gas and nuclear power plants don’t get this kind of scrutiny. Perhaps those organizations are doing a better lobbying job and have paid off the right people. Humans tend to be very visual, and while the gases and toxic waste that these processes produce are keep partially out of site they spread throughout our planet’s ecosystem and are making changes that effect every last person on the planet. While I feel that we have a lot that we can do with efficiency, it is clear that we will need to produce more electricity going forward. A coal plant will be in production for 50 years once built, the longer we wait the more of these are going to be built. There is an urgency here. Some of the brightest minds on the planet say that we are close to the point of no return. So while what some Indians have to say or some rich old money sailors want or the future of some birds migratory paths are important and deserve our respect and consideration, when put into perspective I have to say that the pluses out weigh the minuses with the Cape Wind project. It would be sad to think that people who really love and care for our planet miss a historic moment lost in a haze of Web 2.0 blogs, in fighting and special interests. Mother Earth can’t wait and it doesn’t have web access nor a vote. To those opposing this I would ask you to come up with a better plan and work towards that. Just saying no is too easy.

  19. Fred Unger says:

    Anna,

    I love your suggestion that we “build as many of these big turbines as possible, and give oil-sponsored terrorists the proverbial “bird,” but let’s NOT turn this into a big pork giveaway to big business while shifting all the burdens (and none of the benefits) to the taxpayer.”

    The sad reality is that all energy systems receive very heavy subsidies – through the tax system, through direct subsidies, and through hidden subsidies like our military engagements to protect access to oil or the Price Anderson Act that saddles tax payers with the incredibly huge liabilities of nuclear power.

    Another very important reality is that experiments with socialist control of business enterprise have not had a very good long term record throughout history. And the trillions of dollars of debt and deficit spending our state, local and federal governments are running don’t suggest that they would be the ideal managers of our energy systems.

    Wind energy subsidies are no more than most energy industries receive and far less than those provided to nuclear power.

    And unlike every traditional electrical generation resource, the so called “burdens” of wind power are really negligible and insignificant.

    Look at the the pollution from coal. Look at the terrorist targets, carcinogenic byproducts, long lived incredibly dangerous waste products, fissile materials for nuclear weapons proliferation and potentially cataclysmic accidents of nuclear power. Look at the military expenditures and wars we engage in to protect our oil supply. How can these be in any way considered comparable to the inconvenience a few folks suffer from barely being able to see a few wind turbines a couple degrees above the horizon that they aren’t used to seeing yet. In the end it is really aesthetic and subjective considerations that are the only actual “burdens” that anyone is being subjected to with Cape Wind.

    Despite Barbara’s claims, every one of the technical issues she raises has been thoroughly reviewed and resolved in the nine year long NEPA process that Cape Wind has undergone and has proven to be issues of little or no significant concern.

    Like you imply, I would prefer to see the government completely out of the business of subsidizing business of all kinds. I’d also like to see the government put real price signals on the costs of real burdens on our society, like pricing pollution through a carbon tax, so that the market can more fairly price the real cost of our energy choices.

    In the near term, it appears our country is unfortunately headed in the opposite direction toward more government micromanagement of industry of all kinds.

    When we do begin to realize the folly of manipulating energy markets as much as we do, hopefully we will be smart enough to start by ending the huge subsidies to Exxon Mobil, to the giant coal companies and to the purveyors of dangerous nuclear technologies that have been going on for half a century or more, before we begin singling out clean renewable energy developers for special punishment. Ideally we will be fair enough to level the playing field by accounting for the unfair long term advantages in the market place that all those subsidies have provided for traditional energy systems.

    Let’s all look forward to the day that we can end our dependence on dangerous, expensive, polluting energy resources and as you suggest build as many big wind turbines as possible. If we are serious about a sustainable energy future, after nine years of very thorough regulatory review, the best way to move forward is to build Cape Wind.

    Fred

  20. Interesting blog you got here. I’d like to read more about this theme. Thanks for posting this material.

  21. Barbara Durkin says:

    Fred et al:

    The most important public policy consideration is public safety that Cape Wind threatens.

    Cape Wind is an FAA Presumed Hazard due to WTG vertical height and radar interference determined to be caused by wind turbines.

    Please refer to the experts’ testimony:

    http://bjdurk.newsvine.com/_news/2009/09/19/3290406-cape-wind-a-public-safety-hazard-proposed-for-nantucket-sound-

    “…A correlated and persistent myth is that increasing wind- and solar-generated electricity will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and thus boost our energy security. Less than 1% of our electricity is generated using petroleum, so any renewable generation will have no appreciable effect on petroleum demand.”

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/02/energy-myths/#more-7200

    Expert analyses with 77 cogent comments, by the wind industry informed, for your purview:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/wind_energys_ghosts_1.html

    Tax breaks and public subsidies are primary drivers of the wind industry. Without them, wind energy would not exist.

    Renewable Energy World

    “The nation needs an ambitious plan to promote the deployment of wind and other renewable energy technologies — and the urgent first step it must take is to rapidly extend the expiring renewable energy credits, which are the primary incentive that the nation provides for these technologies today.”

    – Randall Swisher, Executive Director, AWEA

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2008/08/us-leads-in-wind-power-production-but-policy-uncertainty-weighs-on-industry-53325

    ‘The Wind Industry Tells the Truth’

    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-energy-industry-tells-the-truth/

  22. All,

    Hopefully the letter from attorney and Wampanoag tribal member Jeffrey Madison and eight other tribe members to Secretary Salazar, that was reported on in the Boston Globe, will put an end to the latest charade being used to delay the development of Cape Wind. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/19/wampanoag_tribe_member_challenges_sun_rite_that_could_derail_wind_farm/.

    In it he makes very clear that despite his father and grandfather being as tribal medicine men, he never experienced or heard of any sacred tribal ceremony that Cape Wind would impact. He suggests in his letter that “The notion that locating wind turbines in Nantucket Sound will impose on, impact or harm any cultural tradition is just plain false. I believe it to be a fabrication, invented by a small number of Tribal members.”

    Barbara,

    Regarding you assertions from experts regarding air navigation – you can find experts to testify on all sorts of things, especially when they are being paid by wealthy lobbying firms to make the desired testimony. The purpose of the FAA participation in the NEPA process is to sort out the truth from all the varied opinions. The clear finding of the FAA is that Cape Wind presents no such hazard. Rehashing such stale arguments here serves no purpose. That decision is finished. Time to move on.

    Regarding the highly opinionated views of the resources you quote on the subsidies for energy solutions: as soon as they all come out in opposition to the recently announced subsidies for nuclear power, an industry which has received hundreds of billions of dollars in direct and hidden subsides more than wind power, I might consider their opinions something other than blatant hypocrisy.

    There is good reason that wind is the fastest growing energy resource in the world for the last decade. It is cost effective, reliable and despite consternation to the contrary, has proven very compatible with the existing electrical grid.

    As for your notion that wind will not impact our imports of foreign oil: energy tends to be relatively fungible commodity, especially over time. Heat pumps, electric vehicles, hydrogen generation from hydrolysis and many other solutions will directly substitute renewable generated electricity for oil consumption in buildings, industry and transportation. Changes in the price of energy resources will accelerate technological progress as renewable electricity becomes less expensive than more heavily subsidized incumbent industries like oil, coal and nuclear power.

    It is time to look forward. Its time to build Cape Wind.

    Fred

  23. Barbara Durkin says:

    Fred:

    The U.S. Office of Inspector General Cape Wind Report page 28 should prompt your honest retraction of your erroneous statement:

    “The clear finding of the FAA is that Cape Wind presents no such hazard.”

    The FAA has issued Cape Wind an actual Determination of Presumed Hazard that the OIG defines for your edification:

    http://www.doioig.gov/upload/Redacted%20report%20for%20Web.pdf

    Do you think all three local airports’ officials and the ferry operators transporting 3 million passengers per year were paid by Cape Wind opposition for their testimony that Cape Wind presents a public safety hazard? I’ve provided their testimony for your review by link above.

    You failed to mention Jeffrey Madison’s financial deal with Cape Wind as in hired by. Cape Wind that has no credibility is funding oppositional viewpoint that has no credibilty.

    The National Park Service announced the decision by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing to the National Register as:

    “The very meaning of “Wampanoag” rendered in English as the phase “People of the First Light or Dawn” refers to their relationship to Nantucket Sound as integral to their homelands, their history, their present, and their future. The evocative phrase “People of the First Light” is like a “tiny imagist poem” (Edward Sapir, quoted in Bragdon 1996: 135) packed with meaning. The word “Wampanoag” is both temporally literal-they have always been/are/will be the first people to see the sunrise over the water-and symbolically referential: they are of the place, it is how they identify themselves and how others know them. The Tribes have referred to their cultural identity and to their religious practices as dependent on their reverential viewsheds of Nantucket Sound…”

    http://www.house.gov/delahunt/histcommission.pdf

    As you admit, you’ve not had the opportunity to study the Cape Wind proposal in detail. The lead federal regulator, Minerals Management Service, has and admits:

    Cape Wind MMS DEIS Appendix F:

    “Given the estimated cost of energy is $122/MWh, twice that of the current market and that this is after the full benefit of tax and RPS incentives, the prospects of entering a long-term purchase power contract would seem low.” [end]

    “Vestas Wind Power is the largest global supplier of wind turbines, with 35,500 installed worldwide and more than 15,000 employees. The Danish company – which was established shortly after the oil shock of the 1970s – is second only to General Electric in the US market,”

    Reporter Erin Ailworth asked Vestas chief Ditlev Engel about U.S. wind energy market:

    “What about Massachusetts?”

    Vestas’ chief Engel responds:

    “We’ve got more than 100 wind projects in the works currently, many of them only one or two small turbines. The largest is Cape Wind, a 300-turbine offshore project. I think if you look at wind resources on-shore in the US, they are fantastic. And, therefore, I am really wondering why anybody wants to put them up offshore because it’s twice the price. So just as an outsider, I am just scratching my head saying, “Why?”

    http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/09/21/the-answers-to-him-are-blowing-in-the-wind-vestas-chief-sees-untapped-energy-source-in-us/

    The only reason industrial wind energy exists is due to tax sheltering opportunities and public subsidies.

    As Rep. Pete Stark of CA once remarked:

    “These are not wind farms, they’re tax farms.”

  24. Barbara Durkin says:

    P.S. The Boston Globe printed a correction related to the Vesta’s chief article. Cape Wind is a 130 WTG proposal, not 300.

    Look who’s wealthy and lobbying, Fred, the AWEA.

    “The American Wind Energy Association , whose membership includes most of the dominant foreign-owned companies, spent $728,883 in the first half of 2008. In the first half of 2009, it spent $3 million. Its second-quarter 2009 total of $1.83 million was just a few thousand dollars short of energy lobbying king, the American Petroleum Institute ($1.86 million).”

    http://investigativereportingworkshop.org/investigations/wind-energy-funds-going-overseas/story/wind-firms-join-lobbying-frenzy/

    Mass. Secretary of Energy and the Environment Ian Bowles is back pedaling on the high cost of Cape Wind Energy:

    http://bjdurk.newsvine.com/_news/2010/02/19/3923669-secretary-bowles-back-pedals-on-cape-wind-cost-of-energy-

  25. Survival group against God?? LOL. Good luck with that. Truth is, no one knows the exact time this will happen except the man upstairs, however, I firmly believe that there are people placed here by God that post the warning signs and it’s up to you to take heed.
    [url=http://2012earth.net
    ]eschatology 2012
    [/url] – some truth about 2012

  26. What a great resource!

  27. The question of aesthetics with respect to wind-farms has always puzzled me – I think they are things of real beauty and magnificence

  28. In answer to an above comment – investors, being conservative, need an incentive at the moment to invest in the socially beneficial projects. Its right that there is a tax break until the investment community get the message that these are safe investments

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