Favorable assessment means Cape Wind can finally move forward

Feature story - January 16, 2009
Greenpeace protests the obstruction of the United State's first offshore wind farm on the waters of Nantucket Sound off Hyannis, Massachussetts on August 17, 2005. Photo © Todd Warshaw/ Greenpeace USA.The energy revolution is underway in Massachussetts.The U.S. Minerals Management Service has issued a favorable Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Cape Wind project, a windfarm of 130 turbines to be built in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Leaders from labor, civic, and environmental groups across Massachussetts and the country hailed the release of the report, as it is the final federal environmental report needed for the long delayed and much scrutinized project to finally move forward.

When completed, Cape Wind will be capable of supplying up to 420 megawatts of electricity, potentially offsetting as much as a million tons of carbon emissions and saving more than 100 million gallons of oil every year. But the environment won't be the sole beneficiary of Cape Wind. It will likely be a boon to out of work Massachussetts residents, as well, given that as many as 1,000 green jobs could be brought to the Bay State in addition to a significant supply of clean, renewable energy.

"Approval of Cape Wind represents the dawn of an energy revolution in Massachusetts and the nation. With new administrations in both Washington and on Beacon Hill supportive of renewable energy, we believe Cape Wind signals the beginning of a new national commitment to safe, clean and renewable energy," said Kate Smolski, Greenpeace global warming campaigner.

A seven-year odyssey clears a major hurdle

The developer of the project, Cape Wind Associates, first applied for a permit to build the windfarm in 2001. Over the next seven years, the Cape Wind project has had a tumultuous road to approval in which it was rigorously reviewed by numerous agencies at both the state and federal levels.

At the local level, Cape Wind received conditional approval from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, a favorable final environmental impact review from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and approval by the Massachussetts Energy Facilities Siting Board. The project received final environmental approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusettes on March 30, 2007.

At the federal level, Cape Wind received a favorable Draft Environmental Impact Statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in November 2004 and a favorable Draft Environmental Impact Statement from the U.S. Minerals Management Service in January 2008.  With the release of the favorable FEIS the next step is for the new Obama Administration to issue the final permits so the project can begin construction.

Cape Wind bodes well for the global climate and America's economy

According to opinion polls, Cape Wind is supported by a vast majority of Massachusetts residents. And for good reason: It is estimated that the project will provide Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket island with three-quarters of the region's electricity needs.  Better yet given the difficult economic times we find ourselves living in, Cape Wind is expected to directly create approximately 400 green construction jobs and hundreds of additional new green-collar jobs to service and supply the wind farm.

Cape Wind is also supported by a large coalition of labor, business, environmental, and civic groups across the country because of its implications for the future of America's energy mix and its economic promise. Now is the time to put to rest the notion that a healthy economy and a healthy environment are in conflict. Cape Wind represents the best example of how new development can provide both new jobs and a new source of clean and renewable energy. It is the right project, in the right place, at the right time.