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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Massachusetts Moves Closer to Having Nation’s First Offshore Wind Farm and More Secure Energy

Massachusetts Moves Closer to Having Nation’s First Offshore Wind Farm and More Secure Energy
Future Cape Wind Project Draws Near As Final Report Released


BOSTON- After seven and a half years of comprehensive environmental review, scores of public hearings and community meetings, and energy challenges that make Cape Wind more essential now than when it was first proposed in 2001, the lead agency in charge of offshore energy projects today released its 2,800-page Final Environmental Impact Statement on Cape Wind.
“This report validates the project will create new jobs, increase energy independence and fight global warming while being a good neighbor to the ecosystem of Nantucket Sound,” said the project’s developer, Jim Gordon. “Massachusetts is one major step closer to becoming home to America’s first offshore wind farm and becoming a global leader in the production of offshore renewable energy,” Gordon added. “This moment would not have arrived without the steadfast support of environmental, labor, health and citizen advocacy groups throughout the region and I want to thank them for the important role they have played throughout this public process.”
From the Minerals Management Service (MMS) Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS):
Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound is environmentally and economically superior to the alternative site locations that were studied. Cape Wind will reduce regional air pollution emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury, pollutants that harm human health. Cape Wind will reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change by 880,000 tons per year. Building Cape Wind will create hundreds of jobs and generate over a half-billion dollars in non-labor purchases in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Cape Wind will not increase energy prices in New England and could help to lower energy clearing prices. Most of Cape Wind’s electricity will be consumed on Cape Cod and the Islands where it will supply ¾ of that region’s electricity and improve electric transmission performance. Cape Wind will have a substantial positive impact on electrical generating capacity and help Massachusetts achieve its renewable energy requirements under the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Cape Wind will have no major impacts on navigation, fishing, or tourism. Now that the MMS has issued the FEIS, its Record of Decision on granting a lease to Cape Wind could come within 30 days. According to the MMS FEIS its, “...final decision would account for the regional, state, and local benefits and impacts as well as for the overall public interest of the United States.”
The FEIS comes one year after MMS issued a Draft EIS which generated over 42,000 written public comments, over 40,000 of which were in support of the project. Prior to the MMS becoming the lead Federal Reviewing Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a comprehensive 3,800-page DEIS on Cape Wind in November, 2004 that found significant public benefits and few impacts.

In March, 2007, Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian A. Bowles certified that Cape Wind’s environmental impact report on the proposed transmission lines adequately and properly complied with the statutory requirements of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. At that time, Secretary Bowles noted that Cape Wind’s impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was the equivalent of removing 175,000 cars off the road each year.
In 2005, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Sting Board approved Cape Wind’s application after a 32-month review that included 2,900 pages of transcripts, 923 exhibits and 50,000 pages of documentary evidence. The Siting Board found that Cape Wind would meet an identified need for electricity and would provide a reliable energy supply for Massachusetts, with a minimum impact on the environment at the least cost. The Siting Board’s approval was later upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Cape Wind officials expect to complete the permitting process by March, 2009.
Cape Wind’s proposal to build America’s first offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal would provide three-quarters of the electricity used on Cape Cod and the Islands from clean, renewable energy - reducing this region’s need to import oil, coal and gas. Cape Wind will create new jobs, stable electric costs, contribute to a healthier environment, increase energy independence and establish Massachusetts as a leader in offshore wind power. For more information visit www.capewind.org.

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