Unwise Choice

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Cape Wind permit hearings are coming up. I spent 30 years enforcing state environmental regulations and permitting various types of facilities which impacted the environment and am amazed and frustrated at the inordinate amount of time and effort that has gone into the permitting of this project. The sides are still clearly drawn between those who are strongly committed to wind energy at nearly any cost and those who support renewable energy but cannot justify the environmental and aesthetic impacts that this project will likely cause.

I share the view that the minor and moderate impacts on birds, fish and other marine organisms on this particular site, as characterized by the Minerals Management Service, are not something we should be all that anxious to accept. I also see the habitat which the Horseshoe shoals represents as something irreplaceable. The shallow waters of Nantucket Sound are breeding grounds for vast numbers of marine organisms which in turn supports tremendous populations of birds, fish and marine mammals. That is the purpose served by these shallow waters; sunlight, currents and available nutrients all make this a very unique habitat.

Through the last half of the last century, we made many unwise choices in how we use the land. We put our landfills in wetlands because they were viewed as worthless land. We drained wetlands and covered them in asphalt to give us land to develop for strip malls, parking lots and housing developments all in the name of progress. We threaten the health of our rivers so we can have ready access to the cooling water for fossil and nuclear power plants rather than utilize more expensive cooling technology. Other forms of energy production cause mountains to be leveled for access to cheap coal, the arctic to be threatened for access to oil and the landscape covered with oil and gas drilling rigs. This habitat has been lost forever.

The failure of our government to establish policies that would create a comprehensive approach to national energy development and in the case of offshore wind, a strategy for ocean development, has significantly added to this problem. The warnings on climate change are real and we need to stop wasting time.

Wind energy is real but this is the wrong place for it. Cape Wind will give us only 130 turbines and it should be abundantly obvious that this site will never be able to expand; there is no space for growth. We will be giving up this unique habitat, this little donut hole of federal land, only to see it become dwarfed by the larger-scale wind projects that will come in the very near future to satisfy our needs to become energy independent. These new projects will be in deeper offshore waters where they would be best sited.

This should be the focus of the Minerals Management Service evaluation: alternative sites for the more significant amounts of energy this region needs. It is only through comprehensive planning that we can meet the challenge and permanently replace fossil fuels with renewable energy such as wind power. The current piecemeal approach represented by Cape Wind is short-sighted and sacrifices critical in-shore habitat for little long-term energy gain.

As a nation, we have succeeded in losing much of our most valuable habitat forever; they don’t make it anymore. The shallow waters of Nantucket Sound are now similarly threatened. Although clean, wind does not come without a price and we should not let our passion for protecting our planet leave us without those places that make it special.

We should not be so quick to run to the first entrepreneur to come down the road and jump on his wagon. This project represents a financing package favorable to the developer and no one else.

The minerals service needs to recognize that the evolution of wind technology has already made the deeper water locations off our shoreline a distinct reality where we can take advantage of more consistent winds and fewer resource impacts and leave this truly unique place to the creatures who depend on it for their survival, including all of us.

David Nash


A Promising Option

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter has been sent also to the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

It’s understandable that many of us Cape and Islanders have reservations about the proposed Nantucket Sound Wind Farm. Why? Because we’ve been stung by energy developers many times in the past, and are afraid the same might happen with the wind farm.

Here’s how I see it: For 50 years we’ve been told that nuclear power is the answer to our energy problems, that it’s inexpensive, clean and safe. But now we know the truth: We know that it’s expensive (when government subsidies are factored in), that dangerous radioactive waste is piling up at plant sites (making attractive targets for terrorists), and that thousands of people have been killed or sickened around Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

Oil companies also deceive us. (Note that I use the present tense.) They say that their wells, pipelines and ships are strong and safe. But then a hurricane comes along, or a tanker captain drinks too much, and thousands of gallons of oil spill into the sea, killing millions of birds, fish and other sea creatures.

Coal industries are no better. Their boards tell us that modern mining processes cause little environmental damage, and that by burning more coal, we can become more energy independent. But then the truth is revealed. We see flattened mountains, polluted streams, lakes and oceans, dead wildlife, and smoke spewing from power plants, causing food contamination, lung disease, cancer and birth defects.

And let’s not overlook how they’ve deceived us about climate change. It was discovered around 30 years ago, but the oil and coal industries, much like the tobacco industries, told us that more studies were needed, and that there was nothing to worry about. So, now that we know the truth about our coal, oil, gas and nuclear power plants (and their untrustworthy owners), what are we going to do? Are we going to ignore the dangers of our existing power plants, and conduct business as usual? Are we going to continue strip mining, accumulating radioactive waste, spilling oil, polluting and despoiling the environment, killing wildlife, contaminating our food and invading foreign countries for oil?

I hope not. I hope that we have the sensibility to change our ways. Cape Wind Associates has offered us a proposal that they claim will help turn things around. But can we trust them? After all, Cape Wind is a privately owned company, and wants to make a profit, as do all the companies presently supplying us with energy, including NStar and Mirant Electric, the power plant owner that spilled 100,000 gallons of oil into the Cape Cod Canal in 2003.

Maybe they will be just as unconcerned and sloppy about preserving the environment as Mirant, Exxon Mobile, and the operator of Three Mile Island. If we think so, then maybe we should ban privately owned for-profit companies from building any and all new power plants. Maybe we should take it upon ourselves, town by town, or with co-ops, to raise millions of dollars and then construct and operate our own large wind turbines.

I actually think that there is merit to this idea, and the town of Hull is showing us that it can be done. But I’m an engineer and member of several local government committees, and I see how long it takes to make changes. My guess is that it would take our town leaders and voters at least two decades to finance and construct 130 wind turbines -- the number that Cape Wind is proposing.

Can we afford to wait 20 years? “No,” say experts around the world.

James Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration claims that we need to immediately clean up our existing power plants, shut the dirtiest down and construct new, non-polluting power plants (such as wind turbines). He believes that we have only a 10-year window of opportunity to implement these challenging changes. And if we wait too long and do too little, the climate will go into a runaway mode that humanity will likely not survive.

This frightening scenario is enough to convince me that we must not conduct business as usual — that we should follow the lead of dozens of states and countries who have already constructed large wind farms, and that we should accept the fact that there are some aspects of this project, such as it appearance, that will take some getting used to.

In summary: It seems to me that when all options for generating electricity are examined (along with their dangerous side effects), the Nantucket Sound Wind Farm is the most sensible and most promising option before us — one that will input a significant quantity of clean and renewable energy, possibly as early as 2010, and will help rescue us and our children from the brink of self-inflicted extinction.

Chris Fried

Vineyard Haven

Save the Views

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Do you love to look out on the water and savor the natural beauty undisturbed by man surrounding the Island? I do and I bet you do too. You don’t have to be a fisherman or a sailor to appreciate the unique place we choose to live.

Cape Wind threatens us all in different ways. For me, 130 wind turbines taller than the Statue of Liberty are not inspired beauty or majestic peacefulness with their 182-foot rotating blades and blinking lights. They are giant dollar signs for a private developer who will rake in subsidies and tax credits on our dime.

Six million birds migrate through the area of Horseshoe Shoals, the proposed construction site. These turbines are a danger to them and to aircraft radar.

We currently enjoy nature’s gift of excellent water quality. Cape Wind will contain 40,000 gallons of transformer oil on the 10-story electrical service platform complete with helicopter pad. A number of Island commercial fishermen regularly fish Horseshoe Shoals. Your neighbor might be permanently losing his livelihood with the construction of the wind farm, never mind a potential spill. After all, the Big Dig turned out fine.

Circuit avenue will be doing the Cape Wind Shuffle, marching to the multi-ton, metronome-like, incessant pounding of the metal on metal pile drivers forcing these structures into the sea bed. Oh, we certainly will be able to hear it across the Sound and during years of construction.

There is a bright future for wind power but Cape Wind’s proposal is flawed. We don’t even get the electricity, it goes into the national grid. The Federal Minerals Management Service Draft Environmental Statement, available at the Vineyard Haven Public Library, admits the cost of electricity from the wind farm will will cost two to three times more than the current wholesale prices. Federal and state taxpayers will pay more than $1.3 billion in tax credits and subsidies to Cape Wind, a private enterprise. Your tax dollars at work in a private pocket. I think it is costly to live here — does there have to be a cost to the environment too?

Please visit saveoursound.org (it’s quite an education), look at the proposed view from Ocean Park and come to the environmental impact statement public hearing at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on March 12. This is our last chance to stop Cape Wind and their deep pockets.

Don’t we sacrifice enough? There is no benefit for the Island. We will suffer sea-life habitat destruction, danger to bird migration, aircraft radar, boat navigation and property values as many of our stunning views will no longer exist.

Your voice is needed at this last hearing with mine. Do something now that your great-great-grandchildren will thank you for. It’s our environment, not Cape Wind’s, not yet.

Hillary Conklin

Vineyard Haven

Dangerous Experiment

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Before I had heard about the Cape Wind project, I had been studying windmills. I had spoken to a man from England who sells windmills. The idea sounded practical.

But after studying the Cape Wind project, talking to fishermen, wildlife experts and local environmentalists, I feel strongly that Nantucket Sound is not the place for this power plant.

My cousin who lives in Scotland sent an article from her local paper. The wind farm there is radically affecting the migrating bird population. Another cousin in California says the bat population cannot gauge the inconsistant movement of the turbine blades and are being killed.

This proposed wind farm is a giant experiment. If approved, this will be the first in-the-water wind farm in the country. The whole East Coast has been mapped out for future wind farms. Politicians, businesses and communities are waiting for the outcome of this proposal.

This is not tried-and-true, works like a charm, low-impact, high-yield technology. This is an experiment that says: let’s take this beautiful, ecologically sensitive federal land and build an energy plant the size of Manhattan and, oh, by the way we don’t know how it will affect the birds and fish and, oh, yeah, you’ll only get 13 per cent of the electricity we produce.

Cape fishermen have fished the waters around the Cape and Islands for generations. They know these waters as well as anyone can. When these men and women say this wind project will harm the fishing industry, make navigation dangerous and cause massive shoaling, we would be wise to take notice.

We do not know what fish and wildlife will be affected by this project. This is an experiment and a risk we cannot afford to take.

We are talking about a project the size of Manhattan. One hundred and thirty turbines made of steel with concrete bases that will be driven into the seabed. Each turbine will be taller than the Statue of Liberty. Electricity will be used to start them up each time they stop, and like any machine they need oil to run. Each turbine will have to be well-lit. I image the light pollution will be substantial because of the navigational hazards the turbines would impose and because of the hazards to air traffic. There will be noise pollution as well, both above and under water.

Rather than turning our beautiful Nantucket Sound into a big, destructive and dangerous power plant, I would like to see our elected officials set forth a comprehensive plan to address the waste of electricity.

Please join me at the hearing on March 12 at 5 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School to oppose the Cape Wind project. For more information, go to SaveOurSound.org.

Suzanna Nickerson


Protect Horseshoe Shoal

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The fishermen of the Vineyard support clean electricity such as wind-powered generation. The problems with the Cape Wind proposal start with the stupidity of the location, which is right in the heart of Nantucket Sound.

Horseshoe Shoal is the source of more than 50 per cent of the fishery yield of the Cape and Islands. It is the primary grounds for the fisheries for squid, bluefish, striped bass, sea bass, scup, fluke, and for the several million dollar conch trap fishery which represents our greatest landings by volume.

The Minerals Management Service’s draft environmental impact statement falsely calculates the negative effect on the conch fishery as a mere 199 pounds of lost conch. The smooth channel conch is a marine invertebrate of growing economic value whose life biology is not well-described in the literature.

Cape Wind’s negative impact on this fishery will be ongoing and ultimately catastrophic to conch populations in migration and in hibernatory behavior, and will upset egg production in the sustainable fishery.

At the Katharine Cornell Theatre meeting, a fisherman inquired whether this industrial wind farm development will be off-limits to commercial fishing. The answer from Cape Wind was not encouraging. In fact, when this project goes on-line it will trigger a marine security review under the Homeland Security Act.

This billion-dollar industrial project exists by virtue of a loophole in federal and state regulations. It would be better located at Otis Air Force Base or in the median strip of Route 6, or anywhere but the unique and irreplaceable environment of Horseshoe Shoal.

The economic truth is that this project, if sited on Horseshoe, will be at least four times the cost than if sited on land. It carries great environmental hazards that far outweigh any benefits to the general public, and will clearly harm Vineyard fishermen.

The regulatory truth is that once again our government has been caught with their knickers completely down on the permitting and management of this huge project. We strongly urge that the Cape Wind lead developer, Jim Gordon, please think in a more holistic fashion and move this monster to a less sensitive on-land location or face in court the ire of our community, our captains, crews, wives, sons and daughters.

Please register and testify against this project at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on Wednesday, March 12.

Tom Osmers

West Tisbury

Tom Osmers is the West Tisbury shellfish warden.

Absurd Plan

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I think it is absurd Cape Wind wants to put 100-plus turbines on Horseshoe Shoal. It has been the breeding grounds and the feeding grounds for jellyfish, squid, conchs and finfish for thousands of years, never mind the thousands of offshore birds that feed there.

What about the whales, porposes and sea turtles that migrate there? When a right whale is spotted, we fishermen have to modify our gear which costs thousands of dollars. So how can Cape Wind put up this project? All the conch that live there and lay eggs, all the sea bass and scup and other fish that migrate on their spawning run will be forever changed. The consequences of undermining miles of bottom for cables to carry electricity and vibration from 100-plus windmills in a 25-square-mile area of Nantucket Sound will change the life cycle of a lot of fish, shellfish and mammals, including me.

Glenn Pachico

Vineyard Haven

Birds for Cape Wind

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It’s worrisome that confusion persists regarding Cape Wind and the safety of our avian amigos. With a significantly one-sided partitioning of environmentalists and scientific studies favoring the wind farm’s construction, opposition remains limited to a small subsection of wealth sprawled across the private beaches with a view of Horseshoe Shoal.

The ludicrous claims originating from the Alliance to Protect (Our View of) Nantucket Sound are about as helpful to this debate as a parachute that opens on impact, and as equally intuitive.

People, listen up. The birds are going to be fine. The Massachusetts Audubon Society, after a five-year study, has given Cape Wind the go-ahead. They’ve even outlined a plan of action should some unforeseen danger threaten the birds, a plan that also includes a mitigation fund for habitat conservation.

Now, consider the prehistoric smokestack that currently supplies the Cape’s power, and its oil spill delivery system. One can see why local birds are psyched about Cape Wind’s potential. Really. They are. Ask any bird whisperer. That tweet preceding a chorus of enthusiastic chirps . . . here’s what they’re saying: “Can we fly around the turbines? Yes, we can. Yes, we can.”

Jason Cardwell


Stop Cape Wind

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am a very active environmentalist. While I wholly support alternative energy like wind and solar, I cannot understand at any level why the windmills have to be placed in one of the most scenic, beautiful, unspoiled parts of the New England coast.

Why does this have to be done on the Cape? Can’t these windmills beput on top of landfills, along highways or in front of strip malls? What about the national seashore and the wildlife that are protected there? What about local fishing industries and tourism, and all theother industries that local Cape residents rely upon?

Most of all, what about the view that so many people enjoy, love, and find respite in? Looking out at windmills is not the same as looking out at a wide expanse of thesea. CapeWind does not help the alternative energy cause; it alienates people. Why not push solar on top of every roof of every home and buildi ng on theCape? Or, find a practical place for thewindmills? Surely there are other alternatives.

As Thomas Mann wrote in Buddenbrooks, “What sort of men prefer the monotony of the sea? Those, I think, who have looked so long and deeply into the complexities of the spirit, that they ask of outward things merely that they should possess one quality above all: simplicity.”

Melissa Renn


Critical Part of Solution

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This past September, we were privileged to attend a conference at the United Nations called Climate Change — How It Impacts Us All. The conference was attended by more than 1,700 representatives from 66 countries and over 490 non-governmental organizations. The Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in his welcoming remarks declared, “Few issues match climate change in the threat they pose to all of humanity, or the joint efforts they demand from us.”

We heard stories about how the actions of industrialized nations are affecting the most vulnerable citizens of the world — indigenous people fighting for their very survival.

Mikhail Todishev, a representative from the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, shared heartbreaking descriptions of what is happening in an eastern Siberian village.

Mikhail spoke about the steadily declining food supply for polar bears, a result of decreasing ice territory. The consequences are alarming. The infiltration of polar bears into local villages has increased tenfold since the arctic ice on which they live and feed disappears. As a result, parents in these villages bring their children to school carrying them on their shoulders with guns in their hands for protection against the hungry animals.

When we emit pollution into the air on a massive scale, we lose the right to make decisions based solely on the impacts to our immediate environment. Our actions affect people who not only live halfway around the world, but who also do nothing to contribute to these harmful consequences.

Air pollution does not respect geographic boundaries. Our pollution on the Cape and Islands comes from fossil-fueled power plants as far as the Midwest and as near as Sandwich contaminating our land, waterways and estuaries. Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels circulate worldwide, a major cause of global warming.

Time is short and the impacts of our energy use must be mitigated. People of the commonwealth know the dangers and the need for a solution. Polls show 84 per cent of Massachusetts citizens and 61 per cent of those residents on the Cape and Islands support the Cape Wind project.

As Ki-moon said, “We must ensure that we fulfill our promise of a better world for tomorrow’s generations.” The Cape Wind project is an essential part of the solution.

Barbara J. Hill and Laura Wasserman

Barbara J. Hill of Centerville is executive director and Laura Wasserman of Nantucket is director of Clean Power Now, a Hyannis-based nonprofit organization that supports viable renewable energy projects and policies.

Build Now, Fix Later?

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On March 12, residents of the Vineyard will have the opportunity to tell the U.S. Minerals Management Service what they think of Cape Wind. The minerals service wants feedback on its draft environmental impact statement.

They must be told to get it right, and endorsing Cape Wind is not getting it right. Now is the time for Island residents to be heard.

One of the most prominent questions about Cape Wind is the cost. The impact statement says that Cape Wind would produce electricity at two to three times current wholesale costs in the area. The report also says that none of the sites under review, including Cape Wind’s preferred site on Horseshoe Shoal, are economically viable. Why then is the minerals service proceeding with review of Cape Wind? Who will foot the bill if it gets built? Cape Wind still refuses to answer the question, “How much is this project going to cost us as ratepayers?”

Beyond the cost issue, the impact statement is woefully short on facts and information. Consider the following:

• The impact statement fails to explore other options, including a broader range of offshore sites, on-shore locations, and deeper water technologies.

• The terms and conditions to be set by the U.S. Coast Guard for safe navigation in Nantucket Sound, should the enormous wind turbines be built, remain incomplete. The minerals service should not have proceeded without these rules.

• The impact statement states there is a “minor” impact on aviation, but the Federal Aviation Administration recently issued a “presumed hazard” determination for Cape Wind and called for additional studies.

• The impact statement significantly understates destruction of the sea floor and the impact that construction of huge towers and nearly 100 miles of buried cable may have on marine ecology and the success of the Nantucket Sound fishery.

• Noise and night lighting are underplayed but experts believe these impacts will be significant.

• The impact statement understates potential impacts to endangered birds and up to 1 million sea ducks in the Sound.

• Despite that the impact statement admits any air pollution reductions from Cape Wind will be very small, the minerals service continues to advance this project.

The minerals service proceeded prematurely, and justifies its action with a “build it now, fix it later” approach. Only you can stop the folly. Visit SaveOurSound.org and pledge to attend the Vineyard hearing. You can also submit written testimony to the mineral service. It is critical to speak out now and voice your opinion on Cape Wind and the problems with the draft impact statement. Once Nantucket Sound is gone, it’s gone forever.

Sue Nickerson


Sue Nickerson is executive director of Save Our Sound, an organization that opposes the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.

Change Is in the Wind

Change is in the wind

Save Our Sound’s greatest fear

Is blowing in the wind

And for their view, we shed a tear

Change is in the wind

Save Our Sound’s Green Energy Plan

Plant a tree, buy a light bulb, screw it in

Wind farm energy, not in our waters or sand

Change is in the wind

Save Our Sound, says public waters

A national treasure, People do not bend

Shout danger, spread fear, hell, throw in the otters

Change is in the wind

Save Our Sound, their bird’s eye view

Wind turbines out of sight, that’s their end

Like piping plover, you know, the one named Sue

Change is in the wind

Save Our Sound’s commercial fishermen

They chart wrecks, and shoals, to no end

But those towers, they can’t navigate in

Change is in the wind

Save Our Sound and the Steamship’s goal

More cars and tourists, the commercials spin

Them onto Horseshoe Shoal, “The Way to Go”

Change is in the wind

Save Our Sound’s screech, they’re too tall

High price oil, coal emissions, you can depend

Their reusable coffee cup, yes, think small

Change is in the wind

And Ted Kennedy

Eight years’ delay, study, block, don’t give in

Nimbyism, a private beach and sailing his boat

Change is in the wind

Yes we can — yes we can

Cape Wind — yes we can

Change is in the wind

— James Cage