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Nantucket Sound is a precious habitat used by people in the spirit of any of the National Parks. The Cape Wind industrial project is not very different from allowing a private, for-profit entity to install a geothermal generation plant in Yellowstone or a hydroelectric dam in Yosemite. The change will be enormous. The towers are tremendous, and you have it absolutely wrong in saying these 130 mills at a height of 440 feet spinning way above the horizon for the Cape and The Islands will be hard to see from shore-- they will dominate the Sound not just in "the view". That's been overplayed as a terrible nimby-ism by an ignorant press and a sentimental save-the-earth populism, short on scientific, environmental and economic insight.

In fact the distasteful portrayal of opposition to the project as a shallow nimby objection by the wealthy is the successful strategy of the Cape Wind corporation, bought hook line and sinker by citizens and reeled in by politicians.

It is not just "the view". The Sound has been a freely navigable and enjoyable place for people, fish, birds for tens of thousands of years. Mr. Salazar said the place is violated already by undersea cables, ferries, fishing boats, water and communications towers on land ( very, very different) and he is wrong. Any sailor, fish or bird or vacationer could tell you how wrong he is. The shores of the Sound are populated specifically because Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard, Chappaquiddick and Cape Cod have had this beautiful free piece of the oceans to enjoy.

And so on. The wind blows fine thirty miles away from Horseshoe Shoal. But the Shoal, to a developers eye, is a "perfect" spot to build the big mills. Since when have industrial developers given full consideration to nature and people without being pressured? To those who fall back on the idea that we have to do this sort of thing to save the earth and its people, you're stuck on square one. Rethink the details where the devil resides, and make an effort to realize things like alternative sites and the natural beauty of your country.

Thank you for articulating what I cannot do through my tears. Groups such as the NRDC, GreenPeace, and Sierra have sold their souls to a false god, and cannot be trusted to speak on behalf of Mother Earth. The US Dept. of the Interior (spotlight on Minerals Management) is inept -- approved BP drilling apparatus that does not have the ability to shut off spills / relied upon Cape Wind to produce scientific documentation of safety and environmental impact .... The ecocide and ethnocide taking place now is sanctioned by those whose mission statements and legal charge is to protect Mother Earth.

The early reaction to offshore wind turbines in Denmark was similar to the concerns voiced here. A few years in, and the windmills are accepted by a majority of Danes. I hope - and I believe - the same will happen here.

"Un-greenwashed," I take your heart-felt comments very seriously. Let me say that I don't think NRDC has sold its soul. People disagree on Cape Wind. We are frequently a contentious people, so that is to be expected. But, scientific and environmental experts from NRDC and other groups have forced many changes to be made on this project, both in mitigation and in monitoring. I believe the result will help heal the planet from old forms of energy production based on extraction and combustion - two of the most damaging human activities.

Osha Gray Davidson, my Grandmother's post was thanking ABN for the insight, not you for your article. I must make that clear. People such as yourself bring catastrophe upon Mother Earth as paid propagandists (or even worse, free college interns) to manipulate public opinion. To support corporations -- and/or political candidates. I support my Grandmother's belief that NRDC, GreenPeace, Sierra, etc. sold their souls to a false god in supporting Cape Wind. If you want to speak the truth, then post exactly how much in donations, contracts, etc. has been received or will be received from Cape Wind or any other entity/persons supporting it. That is a stand-alone corporation who would impose itself on our public land and waters in order to make a profit. No heart and no soul -- only a profit motive. While other wind developers are first to say that they clear out right away when local people have objections, Cape Wind would rather wreak havoc to claim a "first" in America. Look -- in terms of ecological benefit, according to its own proposal, Cape Wind might be able to lessen only about 1% of the CO2 projected to be emitted in 2014 from only its tiny piece of the world. Yet it will have been done by stomping all over the rights of indigenous residents and Cape Codders, destroying spawning grounds in the Breadbasket of Nantucket Sound, throwing the region into an economic tailspin by ruining tourism, turning neighbor against neighbor in its campaign, and BUYING MATERIALS WHOSE OWN CO2 FOOTPRINT FROM MANUFACTURE, SHIPPING AND INSTALLATION IS RIDICULOUS. For the laughable possibility of offsetting maybe 1% of projected CO2 from its own little part of the world in 2014? Osha, puh-lease ... while you're out jump-starting this "save the world" patent-medicine called Cape Wind, just remember that what you're really doing. It's what every other advertiser for fossil-fuel, tobacco, pharmaceutical, and poison-producing big business has ever done -- helping your employer make money. (but if you're an unpaid college intern, then you're also an exploitee.)

I'll think about what you've written.

Somehow, somehow and, dare I repeat myself, somehow, we homo sapiens must wean our self from fossil fuels that pollute the atmosphere and make the oceans too acidic.

Personally, I do not care if some folks think wind generators are unsightly. I think clouds of black smoke belching from smokestacks whether they be coal fired plants or diesel powered semi trucks is a slow but sure death for our planet.

Although I do not currently live in MA, I did live on the South Shore (Hanover, Marshfield) for seven years.

Another quote from Mark Jacobson that didn't make it into the article, but speaks to your point:

"Those who have opposed offshore wind and other real renewable energy systems (e.g., solar, geothermal, wave, tidal) are, by default, in favor of dirtier and more invasive energy options, many of which damage our children's health and the future of this country."

Is anyone talking about the wildlife? What effects will this have on whales, birds, fishes and other creatures? Since we are hearing similar dismissals (just NIMBY) of genuine concerns about drilling in the Marcellus Shale, I well understand the feeling of having been sacrificed. I keep thinking of the old comment from the Vietnam war, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." Wind power has value. Corporate wind power production is worrisome. We know what they care about.

As the Gulf Oil Tragedy worsens, two things occur to me. First is the ineptitude of humans to control outcomes of their mechanical invasions upon Mother Earth. Second is the vulnerability of waters to this destructive folly. In a genuine lack of wisdom, the US has once again decided to go beyond where it should go - this time by Salazar approving Cape Wind. He just slated Nantucket Sound's fragile ecosystem for an electrical service platform with a helicopter pad, fuel, transformer oil, greases, and industrial lubricants - tens of thousands of gallons of them about 4 miles offshore in those waters. With an increase in predicted severe weather events already taking place, prospects of nor'easters on steroids just doesn't bode well for offshore wind farms in their path. Has Mr. Salazar and Minerals Management just made a budgetary decision on how to kill the waters? Why use premium crude oil when tens of thousands of gallons of alternative industrial fluids will work just as well? People, offshore wind farms are not benign pinwheels. They are industrial power plants that can pollute just as much as any man-made beast. Our life-giving waters should not be squandered like this.

A link to the environmental impact statement from the MMS.

The fact of the matter is that both sides are somewhat right in this debate. The installation of these turbines will cause a disruption to aesthetics and will somewhat harm wildlife in the area. However, though the impact to visuals is somewhat significant, the damage to wildlife is minimal. What's more, the pollution from coal or gas plants in the area would cause similar damages to wildlife.

Foxrun, I am quite confused by your comments. I believe we can all agree that Jim Gordon is not simply a benign philanthropist trying to bring clean power to an area. Rather, he is a developer wishing to turn a profit. That being said, with the absurd scrutiny which this project is under, I severely doubt the MMS would allow wide-scale leakage of oils and other harmful substances into Nantucket Sound

By the way, I appreciate mostly everyone's civility in approaching this debate despite opposing views. Ungreenwashed, your hostility is rude and uncalled for. The author of the article is merely expressing his or her opinion about the subject and you feel the need to lambaste them. Resorting to insults and hyperbole is what makes the state of debate in this country so weak.

Off-shore, onshore, and land wind farms in Scotland and Denmark are actually fascinatingly beautiful - more so because they do not pollute or toxify like massive coal and nuclear plants. I'm an avid kayaker on Cape Cod. My attitude for years has been much like my 16-year old niece's reaction after we returned from a visit to my in-laws in Scotland (her first trip out of the U.S.) and were traveling south on the expressway from Logan airport; upon viewing the single wind turbine at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103 training center, she commented, "Oh great, back in Boston, U.S.A., with one lousy windmill!" The difference in her perspective in regard to many social/lifestyle issues was profound. It's past time for other local folks to stop wingeing and get real about the critical necessity to produce all the clean, sustainable energy we possibly can. Wind turbines are gorgeous - in so many ways. What is truly ugly and ruinous is the attitude of apathy, stagnation, and resistance to developing energy sources that will benefit our entire ecosystem when compared to any known alternative. We must fully develop solarization (sun, wind, water energies) if we are to have any hope of combating global warming and unstable climate change, and providing even a fraction of the energy supply to which we have grown accustomed from fossil fuels.

How can people accept the use of gas and oil after what happened off the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi last week, and what happened in '89 with the Exxon Valdez oil spill and what happened off the coast of Spain recently, and what will keep happening as long as we use gas and oil for energy, but at the same time reject the cape wind project that is by FAR cleaner and less damaging to our environment? If you are opposed to the Cape Wind project then you must enjoy having oil spills around your country, and have no desire to prevent them from occuring.

I'm a little distressed by some of the comments made in reply to this. Until such time as the commenters are ready and willing to abandon the use of power, why is the plight of their horizon more important than the plight of people and animals living downstream (to say nothing of the on the mountains) of West Virginia? Or Chernobyl? There's almost literally nothing humanity can do to sustain itself that will not impact some amount of land and some few animals. That said, wind is one of the least destructive formats we've come up with, next to solar. They're also a lot nicer to look at than smoke stacks and offshore oil rigs. So, polishing away claims of simply wanting to keep the area 'pristine,' are you really so ready then to push off the burden of dirtiness and consumption upon everyone else, so long as you don't have to look at them?

*frustrated sigh*

FYI for those who are interested in NRDC's position regarding Cape Wind, President Frances Beinecke just blogged on the question of offshore wind vs. offshore drilling. She quotes the mayor of a coastal town in Denmark, which gets 20 percent of its electricity from offshore wind, saying: "We look back and wonder what we were so worried about."

Every town where wind is a resource should be powered by a wind generator or nearby wind farm. I'm sorry that it has to be in your "view" but it is also a VISIBLE reminder that we need to take responsibility for our energy consumption. For far too long, we have kept our demand for energy hidden. No one wants to look at a strip mine, or an oil spill, or smell the noxious odor coming from an oil refinery. Perhaps seeing wind generators in our daily view will remind us to conserve energy and live more consciously about how we impact the environment. Coal miners and wildlife saturated with oil should not have to die because we do not want to "see" our our energy demands being met. Wind energy is a renewable resource that minimizes its impact upon the environment, is less dangerous for humans, and is much more cost effective. If we consume less energy, then there will be less of a need to drill, mine, and destroy.

I just have to reference to future oil drilling in general...four words: past global peak oil. Even the U.S. military is finally speaking up about it:

It has been found that these turbines interupt the bees and the birds and our bees are dying off at a rapid rate and without bees there are plants that we depend on will not do well at all.

The birds are afraid of the turbines so they are flying in different directions and that is a bad thing because they help to spread seeds of different kinds of plants.

No matter what man does it hurts animals large and small and we have to consider all of them before it is to late or mankind itself will be in really big trouble and there will be no going back.

Thousands of offshore wind turbines are proposed for the Great Lakes, not to mention the land-based ones. There is much concern for migrating, overwintering, and rare species of birds--one proponent apparently has construction rights in a bay immediately adjacent to an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. Shore residents are appalled by synchronized red flashing lights in their sunsets and night skies--google "Wolfe Island, ON Wind Turbine Visual and Sound Impact in Cape Vincent, NY (Clifford Schneider)" and multiply. Below is consensus statement from state and Ontario agencies responsible for fish management in Lake Erie. (A similar statement was just adopted by consensus of all state, Ontario, and treaty organizations with responsibility for fish management in the entire Great Lakes.) As the first commenter so aptly put it, the devil is, indeed, in the details.


Offshore Wind Power

The Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission recognizes;

• That government agencies view the Great Lakes region as a significant source of wind energy production ensuring a more reliable and sustainable supply of clean renewable energy.

• Great Lakes wind production offers a natural advantage to not only make significant contributions to reducing the impact of climate change, but to better serve the estimated 26 million coastal residences with a clean source of energy, reducing the need to develop high capacity transmission lines through already crowded urban centres, and to act as an economic stimulant to what is considered the fastest growing industry on the world.

• The LEC recognizes and supports each government’s priorities for Renewable Energy.

However, the LEC has concerns about many unanswered questions that may significantly impact the sustainable development of Lake Erie fisheries, one of the world’s largest freshwater fisheries, including associated economic and social impacts. These include:

• documented impacts associated with the development of offshore windpower are limited to a number of ocean-based studies that differ in size and ecology from Lake Erie. Any documented impacts are only short-term impacts. There is virtually no information documenting short-term or long-term impacts of offshore windpower development in any freshwater environment.

• impacts of short-term effects relating to noise and vibration during construction, or the possible re-suspension of contaminated soils during the trenching of cables or the burying of benthic communities.

• potential long-term effects of wind power on the fish community itself. Continuous emission of noise and vibrations, especially at low frequencies, may affect fish community distribution.

• increased areas of hard substrate, which may concentrate certain fish species (smallmouth bass, walleye, lake trout or lake whitefish), but not add to natural reproduction. Hard substrates will facilitate increased abundance of invasive species like dreissenid mussels and goby.

• Electromagnetic fields are expected to be emitted from cables transferring power from off-shore sites. Fish respond to electromagnetic fields in different ways for different reasons. For those fish which are sensitive to electromagnetic fields, such disturbance patterns may affect/alter spawning behaviour, migration routes or result in fundamental shifts in predator-prey relationships.

• Potential for disruption to the hydrodynamics properties of Lake Erie may occur. This disruption may slow lake currents and minimize wave activity, reducing the impacts of these habitat structuring forces in near shore regions and/or increase sediment deposition, possibly reducing the quality of important spawning reefs. Such changes may affect fish like walleye, which may follow currents during annual migrations. Changes in current patterns may indirectly affect the seasonal warming/cooling rates of water, modifying the environment triggers which may be crucial for walleye migrations or for the onset/duration of yellow perch spawning.

• A loss of fishing access to prime fishing areas, depending on the siting of wind farms, could cause major economic losses.

As a result of the lack of documentation regarding the impacts to the fish and fish habitat of Lake Erie, LEC recommends that;

• More emphasis and consideration be placed on impacts to the Lake Erie fish community and its associated habitat.

• All offshore windpower projects include;
o A demonstration of clear and substantial public benefit, including, but not limited to, environmental benefit.
o Long-term ecological monitoring should occur both pre-construction and post-construction.
o Adaptive mitigation measures that would reflect monitoring results. If negative impacts are identified, projects should be re-sited or adjusted to minimize impacts to Lake Erie fisheries and fish habitat.
o Adaptive management should be implemented for future proposals as best-management practices are developed.

• Areas identified as biologically or physically sensitive or areas of archaeological, recreational and commercial values should be protected from offshore windpower development.

• Offshore windpower sited in areas where impacts are minimal and reduce loss of biological productivity or harm to the fish community.

• Legislative tools and policies are used to prevent and/or where necessary minimize or mitigate degradation of aquatic habitats for fish and other aquatic organisms.

• Prior notice and consultation should occur on a lake wide basis for all substantial proposed offshore windpower development projects to ensure consistency across Lake Erie, as envisioned through A Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lake Fisheries.

Would you please be more careful about equating the size of wind farms to the coal-powered generating stations they replace. You say "When complete, Cape Wind will produce 468 megawatts (MW) of electricity, about the same as a medium-sized coal-fired power plant." Assuming you mean a medium-sized coal-fired power plant is around 500MW in capacity, this is quite inaccurate as you're not taking account of the different capacity factors of the respective facilities.

The capacity factor is the amount of power that a power plant generates in a year compared with the amount that it would generate if it ran all year at its peak power output. A coal plant's capacity factor is typically around 85%, whereas a wind farm's is closer to 35%. Therefore a 468MW wind farm can be expected to produce only as much electricity as a (468 x 35)/85 or 193MW coal-fired power plant--much less than medium sized.

This is one reason why David MacKay in his excellent book, Sustainability Without the Hot Air, downloadable for free from his website,, says that the solution to climate change will be big. Wind farms and solar facilities have relatively low power densities.

When you write similar articles in future, please do find out and include the estimated capacity factor for any new wind farm, solar facility, or other new renewable facility. I expect the capacity factors will improve with experience at integrating such facilities into the grid and new technology, and it would be valuable information for your readers.

Predictably, most of the pro Cape Wind commentators here automatically come back to the distracting issue they have been spoon fed by Cape Wind and it's more powerful supporters-- "Opposition is about the view of the wealthy land owners."

It is not about the view. It is bigger than that.

These are big, sharp operators. The "view" thing has been a classic red herring or straw man strategy thrown into the issue to attract large numbers of well- meaning but shallow, sentimental and self-righteous folks, and it has worked.

I might add that organizations like Greenpeace, though, barely qualify as well-meaning anymore, with their contemporary primary mission of sucking in donations. That kind of degradation is nothing particularly new either.

Still, good luck to all.

Kyle, thanks so much for asking me to check my incivility at the door. It means so much to have good manners in the face of destructive propaganda. It will also help a lot to be well mannered during political campaigns when this issue gets called out. Ummm...I never did read the figures about contributions, donations, etc. to NRDC from Cape Wind people? That's a pretty important piece of information lacking from this article.

"I believe we can all agree that Jim Gordon is not simply a benign philanthropist trying to bring clean power to an area. Rather, he is a developer wishing to turn a profit. That being said, with the absurd scrutiny which this project is under, I severely doubt the MMS would allow wide-scale leakage of oils and other harmful substances into Nantucket Sound."

Kyle, Kyle, Kyle ... the country also severely doubted that the MMS would allow wide-scale leakage of oils and other harmful substances into the Gulf of Mexico. The MMS panders to business and does not serve to protect the Earth as it is charged to do. When this Gulf spill first came out and MMS/DOI were questioned about their failure to prevent such things from happening, there was a whole lot of deflection onto BP --but not any sense of Salazar cowboying-up. Gee, If I could have felt a twinge of something just a little human? This has been a hideous, slow-motion ecocide perpetrated by bad policy and bad practice.

When this Gulf spill first came out and MMS/DOI were questioned about their failure to prevent such things from happening, there was a whole lot of deflection onto BP --but not any sense of Salazar cowboying-up. Gee, If I could have felt a twinge of something just a little human? This has been a hideous, slow-motion ecocide perpetrated by bad policy and bad practice.That being said, with the absurd scrutiny which this project is under, I severely doubt the MMS would allow "wide-scale leakage of oils and other harmful substances into Nantucket Sound."