Hyannis, Mass (June 2017) – Residents, business owners, the Cape and Islands legislative delegation, municipalities, fishermen, local Tribes, and hundreds more have demanded the federal government stop moving forward with Cape Wind and rescind the developer’s long-term lease to 46-square miles of Nantucket Sound.
The comments come after the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that, if upheld in the final approval, would allow Cape Wind to retain their lease to 46-square miles of Nantucket Sound until the year 2041. Cape Wind continues to push forward with their plan to build 130 wind turbines in the Sound despite a series of setbacks and 15 years of local opposition to the project. After review of the public comments received, BOEM will issue a final SEIS, which is expected sometime this summer.
The BOEM draft environmental review does not consider numerous recent developments since the last federal environmental review issued in 2009. Since then, new alternative offshore sites have been leased, and Cape Wind has lost both state permits to build transmission lines and contracts to sell their power to Massachusetts utilities.
“Cape Wind is not giving up its efforts to build this unwanted, outdated, and expensive assault on both Nantucket Sound and the pocketbooks of ratepayers,” said Audra Parker, President and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. In Cape Wind’s comments on the draft SEIS, which provide no detail on how they intend to move forward or get financing, the developer urges BOEM to “allow the Project to move forward with minimum further delay.”
Parker added, “Nearly all of the more than 500 comments are strongly opposed to Cape Wind moving forward and offer sound, strong arguments for the government to rescind the lease. Until this lease is canceled, the threat of construction in the Sound remains real.”
Both Barnstable Municipal Airport and the Steamship Authority told federal officials that Cape Wind, if built, would pose serious threats to their ability to operate safely.
R.W. Breault, Jr., Barnstable Municipal Airport Manager, said in his comment letter that Cape Wind no longer holds a Determination of No Hazard from the Federal Aviation Administration, and the project’s massive 440-foot turbine sweeps pose a real threat to the 400,000 flights in and around Nantucket Sound each year.
“I would formally ask that you vacate Cape Wind’s permit and affirm the public’s right to safety while flying to or from Cape Cod,” Breault wrote.
Wayne C. Lamson, General Manager of the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority, said construction of the turbines combined with regulations on avoidance of migrating right whales would force the ferries to change their navigation tracks in ways that are already complicated by visibility, weather, and congestion.
“Cape Wind’s lease should be rescinded,” Lamson concluded.
Members of the Cape Cod legislation delegation – Representatives Peake, Whelan, Hunt, Crocker, Vieira and Senators Cyr and deMacedo – made it clear that Cape Wind has lost most of its approvals, contracts to sell power to utilities and permits to construct transmission lines and needs to be terminated.
“This project is increasingly unlikely to ever be built,” the delegation members said. “Cape Wind’s lease should be revoked.”
Parker said the strong showing of opposition is encouraging, and she is hopeful the large number of substantive comments provided compels BOEM to reverse direction in the final review and rescind Cape Wind’s lease. But she said opponents need to continue working to fight the project or may wake up to find that Cape Wind is once again on a path toward construction.
Parker said leases for Massachusetts ocean acreage in which to construct wind projects are rapidly increasing in value and are drawing corporate interest from around the globe.
“The public comments on the new review show virtually unanimous agreement that Cape Wind should not be built, but we cannot guarantee that Nantucket Sound is safe from development until that long-term lease is rescinded and the seabed is returned to its rightful owners – the public and all of us who cherish the pristine waters of Cape Cod and the Islands,” Parker said.
Link to public comments: