Extensive Research

Mass Audubon’s position on the Cape Wind offshore renewable energy project has been the subject of much discussion and debate. Some critiques of our action have no merit or basis in fact. We are providing the following information to clarify our involvement in the review of this project.

Mass Audubon has never accepted or been promised financial remuneration in exchange for its position of support for the Cape Wind project. Those who assert this claim have never presented evidence to back such a claim — innuendo is not evidence. Mass Audubon requested of the applicant and permitting agencies that the proposal be extensively reviewed, and we submitted those concerns as part of the public comment review process to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the permitting agency at the time.

Mass Audubon conducted extensive avian research since 2002 to provide support for our own environmental review and to contribute to the review by the Corps and Minerals Management Service. We independently raised funds to pay for the cost of boat and airplane charter and made public the results. We also provided our results to the agencies at no cost. We conducted multiple years of satellite telemetry work to better understand the use of Nantucket Sound by long-tailed ducks. The results of this research and all our avian research on the Cape Wind project are available at massaudubon.org/wind/avian_research.php. Our support of Cape Wind reflects the careful analysis of our extensive research as well as the work of others.

For more information regarding Mass Audubon’s position on Cape Wind, and wind energy more broadly, please visit massaudubon.org/wind.

If you or others have questions regarding our position, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Jan Kruse



The writer is communications manager for Mass Audubon.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The evidence of Mass Audubon’s conflict of financial interest in the outcome of the Cape Wind NEPA environmental review, in which Mass Audubon has participated as a Minerals Management Service identified “key partner,” has been offered many times. It’s Mass Audubon’s self-incriminating evidence of bias and conflict of financial interest provided in its own press release titled “Challenge,” and in Mass Audubon’s June 25 press release that announces that Mass Audubon intends to provide a service to Cape Wind funded by Cape Wind. This service is called adaptive management monitoring and mitigation, abbreviated as A.M.

Adaptive management is an umbrella term. It includes monitoring, (counting bird carcasses and carcass parts caused by manmade improvements to the land, such as wind turbines), and mitigation (attempts to reduce harm to wildlife caused by wind turbines).

Do you really expect that the public, and especially avian advocates and biologists, do not understand that NEPA analysis must not take on a project advocacy position as Mass Audubon has taken with Cape Wind? Mass Audubon is, after all, an MMS identified “key partner” in the Cape Wind NEPA review and thus should have remained objective. Do you actually believe that the public cannot process that adaptive management is a service that you state in your June 25, 2010 press release you intend to implement during construction and for three years postconstruction Cape Wind? This service is to be funded by Cape Wind as Mass Audubon’s press release confirms.

The truth is out. Mass Audubon’s most senior executives are conflicted, and have been co-opted by the lucre of the wind industry. And, by Mass Audubon’s own self-incriminating evidence of bias, and conflict of financial interest in the outcome of the Cape Wind NEPA permit review, Mass Audubon has undermined the environmental NEPA permit review of Cape Wind, America’s first offshore wind energy facility.

I wonder. Do the members recognize that Mass Audubon has found a way to capitalize on the killing of migrating and endangered birds by wind turbines?

Barbara Durkin


Inaccurate Portrayal

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The story in Tuesday’s Gazette titled Wind Power’s Strongest Critics Air Their Views, included an inaccurate statement regarding Mass Audubon’s position on the Cape Wind energy project. Mass Audubon requested of the applicant and permitting agencies that the proposal be extensively reviewed. We first submitted this request along with our concerns about the proposed project almost nine years ago as part of the public comment review process, first to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the permitting agency at the time, and later to the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

Mass Audubon conducted extensive avian research to address our concerns regarding the environmental impact of the Cape Wind project. We independently raised funds to pay for the cost of boat and airplane charter to survey the use of Nantucket Sound by terns and wintering sea ducks. We conducted multiple years of satellite telemetry work to study nighttime distribution of Nantucket Sound by long-tailed ducks. We received no funding or promise of funding from either the developer for Cape Wind or the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. The results of all this work were made public and provided to the reviewing agencies. Our independent research supported our conclusion that Cape Wind would not pose an ecologically significant threat to the birds and associated marine habitat of Horseshoe Shoal and Nantucket Sound. Mass Audubon’s full position on Cape Wind, including research reports, can be found at massaudubon.org/wind.

Taber Allison



The writer is vice president of science, policy, and climate change for Mass Audubon.

Mass Audubon’s Role

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In Tuesday’s Gazette my Chilmark neighbor, Jay Ayer, challenged POINT to put in writing that “some members of the panel (wind forum) suggested that Mass Audubon had a cozy relationship with Cape Wind.”

Responding to a question that had been asked about Audubon’s support for the state’s Ocean Plan — not Cape Wind — I answered as follows:

Mass Audubon had no data because Martha’s Vineyard was not part of any of the data that was considered by the state plan. Mass Audubon has essentially conducted a coup on Martha’s Vineyard birders and on Martha’s Vineyard data. I would hope that if they had access to the data they might have taken a different position. There is some speculation that they have a very close financial relationship with the state — I don’t know about that but I do know that their comments were without regard to data from Martha’s Vineyard about our birds. (This is from a transcript of the Sunday forum.)

Yet Jay challenged POINT to document Audubon’s cozy relationship with Cape Wind. Since he asked, I would urge readers to Google Audubon and Cape Wind, and read, as I did, the next steps for Mass Audubon participation with Cape Wind which included their “Avian monitoring and mitigation plan implementation during the construction and three year post-construction phases of the project.”

Decide for yourself whether Mass Audubon’s support of Cape Wind was or was not influenced by their appointment as a counter of dead birds, as was stated directly in the March 21 edition of Newsvine.

But either way, my comments were with regard to the Vineyard and the state’s Ocean Plan — not Cape Wind.

That Mass Audubon supported the State Ocean Plan can not be doubted. Jack Clarke, Mass Audubon director of public policy and government relations, said: “This is a comprehensive and holistic plan for Bay State ocean waters. It has already provided other states and the Obama administration with a model for state and national marine policy.”

Yet the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, in commenting on the very same plan, pointed out that the state had no relevant bird studies or impacts on wildlife generally for the areas proposed for development. None. No studies whatsoever. Fish and Wildlife concluded with regard to their absence: “This is a major concern to the service.”

Still, Mass Audubon found the Ocean Plan to be “holistic” without any knowledge about the effect on their principal charges — birds.

Does this mean that Audubon is an advocate of carbon dioxide reduction, however speculative and expensive, above saving birds?

Where do we who want to save birds right now go if Mass Audubon is willing to sacrifice them to the “greater good” of unproven, very expensive, carbon dioxide reduction?

Andrew Goldman



The writer is the director of POINT.