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Cape Wind battle passes key hurdle with federal agency vote
1 February 2008
Cape Wind Associates' long running battle to develop what could be America's first offshore wind plant passed a key hurdle last month when the project received a favourable review from the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the lead federal agency for permitting offshore energy activities in federal waters. Cape Wind's proposal is for 130 turbines installed off the coast of Massachusetts totalling more than 400 MW and may cost $1.2 billion. The agency released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which found the project would have no major and detrimental impacts on a range of factors including water quality, wildlife, air traffic, the fishing industry, recreation and tourism. According to Massachusetts-based environmental group the Conservation Law Foundation, out of 118 categories of potential impacts considered, all but nine were deemed negligible to minor. The nine deemed "moderate" referred to impacts on biological and physical resources such as birds and habitat. The draft EIS concludes they do not threaten the viability of the resource, and the resource will recover completely with proper mitigation. The project is located near some of America's most valuable real estate, which helped spark a vocal and well-funded opposition effort. Cape Wind's president, Jim Gordon says the positive ruling from the MMS invalidates much of the "misinformation and the propaganda that has been bandied about." A final EIS will be released in the fall with further public input invited between now and then. It is not expected to differ substantially from the draft. The project will also need approval from other agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration and some state agencies. Separately, Cape Wind and others in the wind industry are waiting on the long overdue formation of rules and guidelines from MMS regarding offshore wind in general.
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