by Charles Lemos, Wed Apr 28, 2010 at 11:22:29 AM EDT
The long-stalled Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts is likely to receive approval and financial backing from the Federal Government as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar heads to Boston for what is being as a "major announcement." The Cape Wind project will be the nation's first off-shore wind farm. The proposed 130-turbine farm would lie in Nantucket Sound, about five miles from the nearest shoreline, and cover 24 square miles, roughly the size of Manhattan or half the size of San Francisco.
Even so, the project still faces numerous hurdles as the New York Times reports:
Opponents say the wind farm would mar the area’s pristine beauty and change the region’s character for the benefit of a private developer and that the financial costs have not been fully explored.
Supporters say the benefits would outweigh any loss of aesthetics and provide a clean, renewable source of energy that could meet up to 75 percent of the power needs on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. They say it would provide hundreds of construction jobs, decrease the region’s reliance on fossil fuels and benefit the environment by decreasing emissions of greenhouse gases.
An Indian tribe that uses the area for sacred rituals that require an unobstructed view of the sunrise has vowed to sue if Mr. Salazar approves the project.
After the two sides failed to reach a compromise, the interior secretary said he would settle the fate of Cape Wind by the end of April.
If Mr. Salazar gives the project the green light, opponents are prepared to go to court immediately, according to Audra Parker, president and chief executive of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.
“Litigation remains the option of last resort,” she said before the announcement. “We will not stand by and allow our treasured public lands to be marred forever by a corporate giveaway to private industrial energy developers.”
If the Interior Department clears the project, the alliance would sue on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, although some major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, favor the offshore wind farm.
The challenges would include suits against the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minerals Management Service, alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act.
The Town of Barnstable has filed a notice of intent to sue under a different law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. And the Wampanoag tribe announced on Monday that it was preparing to challenge the project for violations of tribal rights.
[UPDATE] It's official! Cape Wind is a go.