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Salazar approves nation's first offshore wind farm

By Juliet Eilperin

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday he has approved the first offshore wind farm in the United States, a move that ends a nearly decade-long political battle and could pave the way for significant offshore wind development along the East Coast.

In approving the Cape Wind project, a 130-turbine wind farm off Nantucket, Salazar said he would "strike the right balance" between energy development and protecting the area.

"After careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location," Salazar said. "With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation's energy future, ushering in America's first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region."

Gov. Deval L. Patrick, who pushed for the project as part of his plan to generate 20 percent of the state's electricity with renewable energy by 2025, stood by Salazar's side at a press conference in Boston.

"This day has been a long time coming," Patrick said. "We are on our way, and if we get clean energy right, the whole world will be our customers."

The Cape Wind project is hugely controversial. Unveiled in 2001, the roughly 25-square-mile proposal has soured longstanding friendships and opened political fault lines within the Democratic Party. The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose family compound overlooks the sound, fiercely opposed it, while some Martha Vineyard residents and Massachusetts power brokers described it as an essential step toward weaning the nation off oil and other polluting energy sources.

A local group opposed to the measure, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, and a company owned by Cape Cod landowner Bill Koch, Oxbow Corp., have spent millions on lobbying and advertising fees trying to block the project since 2002. Cape Wind has spent hundreds of thouands on lobbying during the same period.

After undergoing a series of state and federal regulatory reviews, which addressed everything from how the wind farm could hinder navigation and harm birds, it encountered another challenge this year when two local Indian tribes managed to qualify the sound for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which could limit its commercial use.

The Aquinnah and the Mashpee tribes practice a sunrise ritual on the sound and say they may have artifacts buried beneath the seabed. Salazar traveled to Nantucket in February and got up before dawn to meet with tribal representatives and discuss their sunrise ceremonies.


Juliet Eilperin

 |  April 28, 2010; 12:20 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Salazar to approve Cape Wind development | Next: Senate climate bill undergoes EPA analysis


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It probably took Ted Kennedy's death to free this good project to proceed. His NIMBY hypocrisy is pretty sickening. Go wind! May Cape Wind be the beginning of a new era of American ingenuity, leadership, and prosperity as this country focuses its peerless engineering and scientific prowess on developing green energy that the whole world will buy.

Posted by: aguy7 | April 28, 2010 5:48 PM
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Quebec told the opposition to shut up and build the hydro plans up north. Now US is buying electricity from them and I'm happily paying 6.5 cents KWh. There was no problem giving away 1 trillion to Wall Str. but some how it is a huge problem spending 1 trillion on renewables, I guess this is how great nations went kaboom: poor priorities selection.

Posted by: mmilen | April 28, 2010 5:41 PM
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I want to know why the Kennedys oppose the wind farms.

Each one of those windmills is a massive steel structure. Think of how much energy it took to forge all that steel and manufacture them, and deliver them to the site.

The calculation you must make is how many years does it take for the energy produced by the windmill to pay back the energy that went into its materials, assembly, production, and installation.

Now take that number and add in the factor that anything exposed to salt water over time corrodes and requires replacement. The ocean is an extremely harsh enviroment. Consider the maintence schedule a beach house undergoes compared to that a land locked house in the US interior does.

The question becomes then, even though there is wind in this area, does it make sense to wind farm there as opposed to some other nearby land based location which does not have the problems of salt air and sea water?

Even clearly high yield energy producing operations like oil rigs, when put at sea can have considerable problems.

Have the suitable land based windmill locations been saturated to the point that we are now driven to use offshore locations?

Where is the WaPo doing the basic calculations here that would really bring out this issue? How hard would it have been to interview the Kennedys and scientists from both sides of the issue to get more facts?

Posted by: Wiggan | April 28, 2010 4:23 PM
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Guess what: if we are supplementing oil and coal then we are moving beyond the deserts and the hollows that the rich folks avoid. Wind and waves are in the ocean, where the 2d homes look out over the pristine waters. So get used to it: the energy business is coming to an inlet near you! If NIMBY and the faux-religious arguments previal, we will never get anywhere; our legislators have to suck it up for a change and make some actual decisions instead of blathering. As noted elsewhere, the Indians will be paid off with more casinos.

Posted by: pioneer1 | April 28, 2010 4:22 PM
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That's funny about the indian tribes. Google the tribes names and they have or want casinos on their land. Sacred rituals my a$$...

Posted by: dcdoug | April 28, 2010 4:13 PM
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Poor ted kennedy; he's rolling over in his grave.

Posted by: jcdooley | April 28, 2010 4:07 PM
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I can't figure out why no one has harnessed the wind in Washington DC yet??

Posted by: Wildthing1 | April 28, 2010 1:12 PM
Not to mention the hot air coming from the Hill to heat homes in the winter!

Posted by: anti-elitist | April 28, 2010 3:55 PM
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The fact that the Kennedys don't want this says a lot to most Americans. These are honestly the kinds of liberal Democrats I call "swimming pool liberals." They sit around their swimming pools, their servants bringing them hors d'oeuvres, talking about all the poor people out their beyond their compound. When something threatens their lifestyle, though, they forget all about the "poor people." Well, we "poor people" are tired of this. We're tired of the government telling us what's best for us. We're retaking this country in November, and we're saying this to the Democrats and to the Republicans who forgot they were Republicans during the Bush years: DON'T THINK FOR ONE MINUTE THAT ANOTHER REVOLUTION CAN'T HAPPEN HERE!

Posted by: georges2 | April 28, 2010 3:48 PM
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Windmills are really quite beautiful, and
very silent.

Would the Cape prefer oil rigs drilling off their coast?

Would the Cape like a disaster as just
experienced in the Gulf? Now they are
going to burn the surface oil to keep it from reaching the shoreline. The pollution from the burning will be huge,
will most likely flow on shore, and
will provide a great deal of air pollution.

Can you equate this oil spill, for example, with windmills? Remember the
giant carrier and what that spill did to Alaska? Short memories people?

Get a grip opponents -- wind energy is clean, pays for itself in a short period of time, and seems like American companies
are involved, not BP, etc. as in the Gulf.

Posted by: Sirius2 | April 28, 2010 3:14 PM
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Far less risky, than offshore oil drilling...

You have to make sure the d*mn things don't topple in a hurricane, otherwise great solution to harness wind & still keep those hideous monstosities out of populated areas and desert vistas.

And if somebody could make a flat, low profile windmill for rooftops that would throw off enough electricity for a payback, that person would make millions.

...remember when GOP'ers failed to understand how green conversions would add jobs? Time to wake up - the potential for new industries is gigantic.

Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | April 28, 2010 3:11 PM
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GRICH2 wrote:

In response to Janet8's comment, the Cape Wind project was brought to the public in 2001 (and was known in the New England area for years before that).

Wasn't Obama still a state Senator in Illinois at that time? Please direct your cynicism to the correct place.


In 2001 we didn't know that Wind Farms as an energy source was a failed program.

However, in 2010 we know that the Wind Farms failed in the UK this past winter and the Green Energy program failed in Spain which may have contributed to to their rating being downgraded by Moody today from AA+ to AA.

And for Obama's Administration to implement a known failed energy program is foolish and wasteful.

Posted by: janet8 | April 28, 2010 2:57 PM
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Hiccup Ted Kennedy must be, well, spinning in his grave.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | April 28, 2010 2:49 PM
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Windmills aren't oil wells. They look fine to me.

If people don't like the looks of anything, they can go develop a means of pulling static electricity -- omnipresent -- into a power cell with no conveyance other than air. I'm all for that. No powerlines, no nukular reactors, no oil wells, no coal, no nothing. It's only unrealistic because nobody has bothered to sweat out a solution.

Until they do, smut-producing machines have to be made to drive energy, drill for energy, produce steam for energy. Windmills and solar power are the least impactive of the bunch.

Posted by: Meepo | April 28, 2010 2:46 PM
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Now let's put some in Nancy Pelosi's district.

What's that screaming I hear?

Posted by: Jeff08 | April 28, 2010 2:38 PM
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Put one on the White House lawn.

Posted by: blackforestcherry | April 28, 2010 2:32 PM
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I'm pretty skeptical but there's no point in hoping for failure. I'd rather be wrong then see all the money go to waste. Good luck!

Posted by: andrew23boyle | April 28, 2010 2:27 PM
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"The most notable opponent of Cape Wind was the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a champion of green energy who, to the dismay of environmentalists, fought against the wind farm. The Kennedy compound will have a view of the wind turbines"

LOL, Typical liberal hypocrisy. Oh I am sooo green, as long as it is somebody else who gets their view blocked not me from my multimillion dollar home. Liberals really are the scum of the earth.

Posted by: pwaa | April 28, 2010 2:26 PM
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Koch family's wealth came from oil refining. And Bill here is the CEO of an energy development company. I am sure his interest in stopping wind energy is purely for the good of the community at-large (snark).

Posted by: VAreader | April 28, 2010 2:25 PM
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Don't worry, we will fight this in the courts for years. Acting morally superior about environmentalism and blaming conservatives is fun and all, but not when it means it will spoil the view from our Cape Cod mansions.

- Rich Liberal Massachusetts Democrats

Posted by: Jeff08 | April 28, 2010 2:14 PM
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Given the Cape Coder's rejection of a few wind machines it's time to bring back whaling. Those beasts can provide oil for light for a while and provide jobs in an otherwise non-existent industry, which had been the economic center of Cape Cod at an earlier point in history. If a few spinning things sticking out of the water is offensive, then knocking off a few sperm whales is surely more acceptable. Trust me, I went on a whale viewing tour out of Cape Cod, so I know they are out there, ready for the taking. Now, there was a certain furor when windmills were created and propagated in Holland, but basically the complainants were told to shut up. Later, of course, these bits of medieval technology became quaint and symbolic of an interesting culture that has actually gone on to create massive means of controlling the ocean and its tides. I have plenty of time for indigenous people and their morning rituals or any rituals for that matter, but if you have a problem with a bunch of pinwheels sticking out of the water you ought to look at all the really ghastly things that have befallen your tribe, such as the ban on whaling. For the sailors in the audience, a bunch of wind turbines out there could provide all the challenge and deadly opportunities you could ever imagine. I predict a "turbine slalom", to be featured on ESPN. Given the rotation and size of the blades, this could add more interesting elements, which means great ratings!

Posted by: michaelgury | April 28, 2010 2:07 PM
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Traveling I 10 quite often pass wind farms in Texas, most of the time all of them are stopped, some of the times a couple will be turning.

I have never seen all turning at any time, even when the wind is blowing.

And we need to send more money to China for the rare earth magnets used in them.

Posted by: flippo10 | April 28, 2010 1:49 PM
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Great. Now put one in the Blue Ridge Mountains here in Virginia. This is a defeat for environmentalists who consume much electricity to power their email campaigns and cool and heat their attorney's offices while opposing anything and everything that would address the problem. This new project will create jobs too which we need. Of course the idle rich environmentalists don't want jobs either since they would rather have the capitalist system collapse completely.

Posted by: werowe1 | April 28, 2010 1:39 PM
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"The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose family compound overlooks the sound, fiercely opposed it...". Just another example of the Great Gas-Bag putting his own interests before those of the country - and this is the Great Liar of the Senate who brought us Obamacare.

Democrats are in for a rough ride in November...

Posted by: hill_marty | April 28, 2010 1:34 PM
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I lived on the coast of New England, and in the Winter the winds are very strong, and peak during most of the bad weather. Since heating is the big issue in New England, this is a good thing. Not sure about the Summer, but New England has far more wind than Texas year around.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | April 28, 2010 1:32 PM
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Posted by: jordaner004 | April 28, 2010 1:28 PM
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Before drawing analogies to the feasibility of wind farms in the United Kingdom, please remember we're talking about Cape Cod and not the UK. Anyone whose been to the "Cape" knows there is no shortage of wind - winter or summer. And there have already have been published examples of what these windmills/turbines will look like at different numbers of miles from shore . On a clear day you can barely see them from 6 miles away. On a hazy day (much of the year on the Cape), they would be invisible. I'm sure buggy whip manufacturers raised similar objections to the horseless carriage!

Posted by: kenarmy | April 28, 2010 1:24 PM
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Renewable energy definately makes more sense than OIL. However, perhaps the good folks in Mass. would prefer their fair share of the Gulf oil leak, and the air polution created by the Coast Guards 'CONTROLED BURN'. That is, if the Coast Guard can control the burn of an multi square mile oil slick.
Let's face it, engineers keep saying that they know what they are doing, that nothing can go wrong, that it is under control. And they always prove themselves wrong on all counts.
This is just one more example.
Every gambler will lose. And often that loss will be spectacular. As Spectacular as a buring Gulf of Mexico.
Yep, a wind farm makes good sense.

Posted by: laurelphoto | April 28, 2010 1:21 PM
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Legal challenges are still pending, which means dirt won't be broken for years.

Posted by: moebius22 | April 28, 2010 1:18 PM
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I can't figure out why no one has harnessed the wind in Washington DC yet??

Posted by: Wildthing1 | April 28, 2010 1:12 PM
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In referring to the previous comment{s}: If the winds off of Nantucket are the same as those in Great Britain, you may have a point. Obviously they are not. More likely, it’s the NIMBY view!

Posted by: tonyholst | April 28, 2010 1:11 PM
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I just love some of these comments. I am convinced if President Obama singlehandedly developed a cure for all cancers that was cheap and readily available to everyone these clowns would lament the government take over of cancer treatment and fret about the loss of profits for Merk et al.

Posted by: Observer001 | April 28, 2010 1:08 PM
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In response to Janet8's comment, the Cape Wind project was brought to the public in 2001 (and was known in the New England area for years before that).

Wasn't Obama still a state Senator in Illinois at that time? Please direct your cynicism to the correct place.

Posted by: GRich2 | April 28, 2010 1:01 PM
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The US economy needs clean energy. China, Germany and other export rivals are investing in clean energy. We should not be left behind. Please review the facts concerning our budget and trade deficits, including the direct and indirect subsidies coal receives and the amount of oil we import from countries that either directly or indirectly support policies contrary to core US interests.

Lets get conservatives and environmentalists to work together on a simple idea: Tax pollution more and tax income less.

Lets build a stronger US.

Posted by: david65 | April 28, 2010 12:58 PM
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Posted by: tjhall1 | April 28, 2010 12:54 PM
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I guess with the NIMBY, Mary Jo killer Ted Kennedy gone, it's okay to have the wind turbines there now.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | April 28, 2010 12:49 PM
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In the January 2010, Daily Telegraph in the UK was this headline:

"Wind farms produced "practically no electricity" during the cold snap which manufacturers' groups say could lead to severe winter energy shortages."

It said that cold temperatures, accompanied with a high pressure system and NO WIND, then the Wind Farms will produce almost NO ELECTRICITY.

That's why Spain's "green program" failed and they are in economical trouble.

Why would Obama's Administration want to duplicate a failed system?

Just as with Obama's other questionable actions, shoving failed programs and going against the voice of US citizens & sound practices, Obama is ignoring the failure of wind farm systems already tried in Europe.

I guess Obama thinks if he keeps implementing failed programs that somehow the outcome will be different.

Makes one wonder.

Posted by: janet8 | April 28, 2010 12:47 PM
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Good luck with that. The British can tell you something about the feasibility of wind farms.

Posted by: moebius22 | April 28, 2010 12:28 PM
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