Cape Cod Times: “Federal bureau sides with Cape Wind”
By Matt Murphy / State House News Service/September 29, 2017 –
The Cape Wind project targeted for Nantucket Sound has proved its resiliency once again, scoring its first win under the Trump administration with an affirmation of the project’s decadeslong lease after a review of the seafloor’s ability to support turbines.
The future for Cape Wind, which proposes to build 130 wind turbine generators near Horseshoe Shoal, remains murky, but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management disregarded pleas to cancel the project’s lease in a narrow ruling this week focused on seafloor integrity.
The decision published Wednesday and signed by acting bureau director Walter Cruickshank found additional geological data gathered in 2012 was sufficient to show that the seafloor could support wind turbines.
At the same time, the bureau ruled requests by project critics to cancel its lease for a variety of reasons were “out of the scope of review.”
“There is no evidence to suggest the seafloor would be unable to support turbines for this project design,” the decision states.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in July 2016 vacated the project’s final environmental impact statement and ordered the bureau to supplement the permit with “adequate geological surveys” to ensure that the seafloor could support wind turbines before Cape Wind could begin construction.
With the new environment impact statement prepared, the bureau issued a six-page decision affirming the integrity of the seafloor and the previous lease issued to Cape Wind.
Audra Parker, of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, believes the bureau should have expanded the scope of its review to consider new developments since the issuance of the lease in 2010. Those changes, she said, include the loss of state transmission line permits, the decision by utilities to cancel their power purchasing agreements, improved technology and new potential sites for the wind farm.
“They inappropriately constrained the scope of the review,” Parker said. “We have to evaluate next steps, but we will continue fighting to end this lease because as long as the developer has a lease it’s a threat.”
Parker said the turnover in administrations had given her reason to be optimistic that opponents’ appeal for a broader review of Cape Wind would be heard favorably, but it did not work out that way.
“Politically, I think there’s less appetite for this project than there was under the previous administration, both at the state and federal level, so I was hopeful,” Parker said. “But a lot of the same people are in place doing the review.”
Cape Wind did not respond to requests for comment on the bureau decision or the future of the project.
Reprinted via Cape Cod Times, which is not affiliated with the Alliance.