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Keeping Nantucket Sound pristine -- Motor boat protest

Emissions from hundreds of gallons of fuel were loosed into the environment off Cape Cod on August 31 by protestors who set out to sea, mostly in motor boats, to campaign against the perceived industrialisation of Nantucket Sound off the New England coast. They had chosen to spend their Sunday burning fuel to object to plans for clean energy in the form of a 130-turbine offshore wind farm.

 

Roughly 60 boats, substantially fewer than the hundred or so promised, made the ten mile trip from Cape Cod's south shore to gather around a meteorological tower erected earlier this year by the wind project developer, Cape Cod Wind, to gather weather data.

The sound should remain "pristine," said local entertainer Frankie Spellman, speaking amid the fumes of unburned hydrocarbons coming from the many idling engines. The unstable chop was a bit uncomfortable. As boaters milled around the tower, hissing and howling at its measuring of the sound's vital statistics, some seemed rather green in the gills -- but it was hard to tell whether their queasiness came from the rough water or from breathing diesel and petrol toxins.

Most of the boats present were pleasure craft with names like "Offshore Banker." True working boats were few and far between. The sound is a boating Mecca for some of the nation's richest and more powerful people.

Oil millionaire

Among those who participated was William Ingraham Koch of West Palm Beach, Florida and Osterville, Massachusetts. Koch is a former winner of the America's Cup, a prestigious yacht race, and the inheritor of a vast fortune built on a carbon-based fuel -- oil. Koch is currently head of the privately held Oxbow Group that specialises in coal mining, bulk commodity trading, geothermal and natural gas-fired electric generating facilities and oil and gas production and marketing.

(In the interest of fuel disclosure, this writer attended the event on a 26-foot sailboat which, when the wind failed, was powered by biofuel from recycled Chinese restaurant cooking oil, which made us all hungry for spring rolls and stir fry.)

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