Salazar to Make Final Call on Cape Wind

Photo by Kate Sheppard.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Will Cape Wind finally get the green light after nine years of delays? It now looks like Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will make the ultimate decision on what could be the country’s first offshore wind farm.

Salazar hosted meetings between the parties involved in a hotly contested dispute over whether to build the 24-square-mile, 130-turbine wind farm in the Nantucket Sound. Earlier this month the National Park Service determined that the sound could be considered for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in response to a request from local Native American tribes. But the tribes were just the wind farm’s newest opponents: a campaign backed by dirty energy interests has been trying to thwart the project for nearly a decade.

Salazar brought together the Cape Wind developer, the tribes, state and national historic preservation officers, environmental groups, local governments, and other key parties together in Washington on Wednesday. Salazar said the agency has decided to extend the public comment period on the project until Feb. 12. The involved parties have until Feb. 28 to reach a resolution on how to progress. Changes to the project—like reducing the total number of wind turbines or changing their color or their arrangement—have been listed as possible measures to address opponents’ concerns. So far, opponents have held firm that they do not want the turbines in the sound.

If the parties can’t reach an agreement, Salazar and the Department of Interior will make a final determination on the project, taking into consideration both the need for renewable energy development and the responsibility to protect historic locations. That decision will be reached in April, Salazar told reporters following the meetings. “We will bring this process to conclusion,” said Salazar. “I think 9 years after an application was filed with the United States government … to have it face a future of uncertainty is bad for everybody.”

 

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon called the discussion “very constructive” and said he was “convinced” that Salazar would ultimately approve the project.

Salazar acknowledged that declaring the sound off-limits to development “could have far-reaching effects” on subsequent efforts to build offshore wind farms. But he did not think that this decision will determine the entire future of offshore wind development, as Cape Wind’s advocates have warned. “From what I have seen across the country, there is already tremendous investment going on with respect to wind energy,” he said. “I don’t think Cape Wind one way or another will be determinative of the future of wind energy or the investment in wind energy jobs here in the United States.”

Yet advocates of the project believe that Cape Wind could prove criticial to kickstarting the US wind industry. “We passionately believe that this is the right project in the right place at the right time,” said Gordon.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.