A fter the recent hearing and learning what others are doing and thinking regarding the state plan to locate at Noman’s Land (already designated by the federal government as a bird sanctuary) and Cuttyhunk, up to 166 turbines over 450 feet high generating enough electricity to power over 200,000 homes, the following thoughts occur:
• While I am concerned — even terrified — about global warming, and strongly believe that alternative energy sources to fossil fuels must be generated, I want to be able to support and be guided by scientific and economic-based strategies in order to evaluate the relative viability of renewable alternatives, including wind.
• Maybe I was asleep at the switch, but it seems to me that the state plan to site these large commercial wind farms solely in our front yard appeared out of nowhere like a summer storm. Oh yes, I was aware of the Cape Wind project, but not the latest state plan.
• I first want to applaud the governor and his staff for placing this critically important issue front and center. Notwithstanding, it seems to me that in many ways both the Oceans Act and the proposed sitings require improvement.
• In the case of the act, it needs to be amended to assure that criteria of concern to us are included including vistas, economic impact and, of vital concern, that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission must have final approval with appeals from its determinations going to the courts, not to a politically-appointed siting board.
• In the case of the proposed plan, in order to inspire confidence, there must be meaningful consultation with the Wampanoag Nation, and local Vineyard concerns, including Vineyard bird experts, local fishing interests, as well as analyses of the project’s environmental and economic impacts. No plan that exempts Nantucket as a possible site because of its birds and then targets the federal wildlife preserve of Noman’s Land for such a purpose can be credible. The latest delay in the Cape Wind project for failure to consult with the Wampanoag Nation shows the importance of not missing this vital step.
• Our neighboring states, Maine and Rhode Island, have gone about these issues differently. Maine has set up a legislative energy task force to study and report back and Rhode Island is conducting a two-year study with the Oceanography Department of the University of Rhode Island to identify the best locations. We, on the other hand, have gone directly to the creation of comprehensive ocean management legislation. Perhaps our plan would have more buy-in had it been preceded by comprehensive study similar to Maine and Rhode Island before going directly to this legislation.
What to do about it?
Let Vineyarders decide.
It is critical to:
• Require turbines to be located where most propitious, following consultation with the Wampanoag and following a process that inspires confidence because of its inclusionary and broad-gauged criteria that not only optimizes the utility of the wind farm, but minimizes the collateral damage to the environment, fish, birds, vistas, adverse economic impact, etc.
• Require any state plan that affects the Vineyard to obtain approval of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and any appeals therefrom to go to the courts.
In order to achieve these objectives it will be necessary to organize and act in concert — something Vineyarders don’t always do well — but is vital here.
While many groups and individuals have already spoken out, I have felt the need for the existence of an overarching entity to make sure that all relevant expertise necessary for Vinyarders to participate meaningfully at the table is available.
All concerned who agree with the thrust of this appeal are cordially invited to attend a meeting to be held at the Chilmark Community Center at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20.
At that time a proper organization can be created; goals, strategies and tactics can be discussed and, with sufficient support, implemented.
Andy Goldman lives in Chilmark.