Cape Wind project approved | Arguments for and against

Saturday, October 5th, 2013 By

Offshore wind farm

Cape Wind would be the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Image from Flickr.

Cape Wind has been one of the most hotly debated renewable power projects in the country. Now that Cape Wind has been approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the debate is getting even more frantic. If Cape Wind is built, it will be the first-ever U.S. offshore wind development and would be able to provide cheap power to three quarters of the Cape Cod community. Developers have a loan company and technology at the ready, but some residents of the shoreline are vowing to fight the development as long as they can.

What is Cape Wind?

Cape Wind is a planned 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. The original proposal for Cape Wind was submitted almost a decade ago, and it has been under “federal review” for nine years. The offshore wind turbines would be anchored in the sea floor and would use the strong, constant sea wind to generate power. Visual simulations estimate that Cape Wind turbines would appear about one-half of one inch tall when standing on the shore. Cape Wind would be the first offshore wind farm in the United States, though there are proposals for Texas, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey as well.

Arguments against Cape Wind

Cape Wind encountered its first roadblocks very early in the project development. Late Senator Edward Kennedy fought against Cape Wind, worried that it would be a “special interest giveaway” and that it would ruin the views from the family property that looks out onto Nantucket Bay. Other anti-Cape Wind groups worry that the wind farm would “jeopardize tourism” by changing the view of Nantucket Bay. The Wampanoag Native American tribe has also challenged Cape Wind. The Wampanoag tribe claims that Cape Wind would obstruct religious practice that requires a clear view of the sun over the bay – and that the windmills would be anchored in long-flooded burial grounds.

Arguments for Cape Wind

Proponents of the Cape Wind development form a coalition just as broad. Environmental groups have lauded Cape Wind, as the renewable energy from the development would provide clean energy for three quarters of Cape Cod. As domestically produced power, the Cape Wind project would also help reduce U.S. dependence on oil, a major goal of the Obama administration. Cape Wind would also provide hundreds of “green jobs” in the depressed economy.

Government approves Cape Wind

Though U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved Cape Wind, that is far from the last word on the development. While other countries, such as Denmark, have been using Cape Wind-style projects to provide power for years, this project would jump-start the U.S. development of clean offshore power. Opponents have vowed to use quick loans to fight Cape Wind in court at the same time environmental groups, and the government, are looking for domestic energy solutions that don’t risk 1,800 square mile oil spills. What is your opinion of Cape Wind?

Sources:

NPR.org at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126363616
Washington Post

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