ENERGY -- April 28, 2010 at 4:15 PM ET
After Nine-Year Fight, Government Approves Cape Cod Wind Farm
On a day when much attention is centered on an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. took steps toward an entirely different alternative on the energy front. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday that the federal government would approve construction of a 130-turbine wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The project would be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.
Salazar suggested that the decision could open the door to more offshore wind development.
"With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our nation's energy future," he said.
The nine-year battle over the Cape Wind project has pitted supporters of wind energy against a disparate group of opponents. They include Cape Cod residents who are afraid that the turbines, which will be visible from shore, will spoil the area's natural beauty. One of the most prominent of those opponents was the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Two American Indian tribes have also fiercely fought the project, saying that it could disturb ancient burial grounds now covered by the sea and block views crucial to their religious ceremonies. Opponents have also suggested that the wind farm could harm fish and birds in the area.
Opponents of the project have spent millions of dollars lobbying against the proposal as it has wound its way through a lengthy federal review process. The NewsHour first reported on the Cape Cod controversy back in 2005, including this online interactive that explains how a wind turbine works.
On Wednesday, Salazar said that federal approval for the project included conditions requiring Cape Wind to do more archeological surveys on the site and to take more steps to reduce the view of the project from shore.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat and a supporter of "Cape Wind," joined Salazar for the announcement.
"America needs offshore wind power and with this project, Massachusetts will lead the nation," he said.
But Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican who replaced Sen. Kennedy earlier this year, said in a statement that the project was "misguided."
"With unemployment hovering near ten percent in Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project will jeopardize industries that are vital to the Cape's economy, such as tourism and fishing, and will also impact aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes in the area," he said.