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Cape Wind and Offshore Wind Power Generation

On the face of it, it seems hard to imagine a better match between a region and its energy needs than New England and the Cape Wind offshore wind farm power project. The six-state area produces few natural resources with which to generate its own electricity to provide for its 14 million inhabitants. A large percentage of this electricity is currently produced by nuclear plants, which in the area are controversial to say the least. The remainder of New England’s power generation capacity consists primarily of relatively small-scale hydro, fossil fuel, biomass, and trash-to-energy facilities. Meanwhile, just offshore is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of power, in the form of wind (which, as many of us Yankees will attest, always seems to blow every day throughout the coastal region). And offshore wind power is a proven technology, generating electricity in Europe for years. It seems little wonder that an opinion poll indicated that over 80% of adults in Massachusetts are in favor of the project, with environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Audubon Society voicing support. Thus if any enterprise appears to have a bright economic future, it would appear to be Cape Wind.

Why then does it seem that any news item about Cape Wind almost invariably includes the word “controversial” to describe the project? And why in a recent interview did Jim Gordon, Chief Executive Officer for Cape Wind Associates, cite legal opposition from project critics as one of the major challenges to the enterprise? To answer these questions, we must examine several critical factors, some specific to Cape Wind, others perhaps applicable to any renewable energy technology that proposes to produce large-scale electricity in the near future.

Cape Winds at a Glance

Briefly, Cape Wind is a $2.5+ billion dollar project to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, off the coast of Cape Cod. After 10 years of development, much of it spent in court responding to critics, the project recently received approval from the U.S. government to begin construction, which is slated to start over the next several years. A major milestone was last year’s announcement that National Grid signed a 15 year agreement to purchase 50% of Cape Wind’s output, at 18.7¢/kWh. When completed, the wind farm is projected to supply around 75% of the energy needs for residents of Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, with no greenhouse gas or other polluting emissions, no consumption of water, and no other discharge of waste.

In addition to providing power, Cape Wind promises to offer a boost to the local economy. Mr. Gordon estimates that during its construction phase, the project will hire between 600 and 1000 workers; when operational it will employ 150 full-time staff.

Opposition

One of the primary groups opposed to the development of Cape Wind is the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound (APNS), whose membership and supporters have included former U.S. senator and Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry, former governor and potential Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and the late senator Ted Kennedy. Readers will recognize that those names appear to cut across otherwise wide political boundaries, which may indicate opposition to Cape Wind is not based solely on ideology. It may also be instructive to recognize that some of those names have generally been counted among those in support of environmental and green energy initiatives, which may be further evidence of how divisive an issue the project has become.

APNS and its supporters maintain their objections to Cape Wind are based on a number of legitimate concerns, including safety, damage to the environment, and aesthetics. Its critics, on the other hand, claim the group’s environmental stance is overstated, and that its primary motivation is in actuality a well-heeled, well-connected form of NIMBY. Whatever the case, APSN has spent much of the last 10 years making life difficult for Cape Wind, raising numerous court challenges. Recently, they along with several other groups filed initial briefs with the Massachusetts State Supreme Judicial Court to appeal the state’s Department of Utilities’ November 2010 approval of the project. And a recent sighting of North Atlantic right whales in Nantucket Sound provoked fresh APNS criticism of the wind farm on ecological grounds.

Although APNS is probably the most high-profile group opposed to Cape Wind, they are not alone. For example, included in the aforementioned legal filing is the group Associated Industries of America (AIM), who believes the 15-year contract between National Grid and Cape Wind unfairly distributes the project’s costs to ratepayers. Others have also criticized the additional burden consumers will have to pay for their electricity, since the cost of power produced by the wind farm will be considerably higher (at least in the near future) than that produced by current technologies. Although this additional cost may not be overly excessive for individuals (one estimate projects this as around $1.50 per month per average household), for larger consumers such as Wal-Mart the increase could be substantial. And some have questioned the commercial viability of Cape Wind, pointing out that 50% of their potential power output still remains unsold.

Going Forward

Thus far, Cape Wind appears to maintain an optimistic outlook towards these court challenges. In a recent interview, Mr. Gordon characterized the situation as “we’ve been at this for 10 years, and we have met our opponents in courts or in regulatory arenas for that time, and our record has been 15 and 0.” Nevertheless, at a minimum answering such challenges consumes time and expense. Further, years of legal wrangling would likely delay the eventual financial return for any hypothetical venture capitalist contemplating investing in a project such as this.

In some ways, Cape Wind can be considered a bellwether project for offshore wind farms in America. Recently, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conditionally approved the Atlantic Wind Connection.  This $5 billion project (which includes internet search giant Google as a major investor) proposes to create an offshore transmission line that would connect up to 6,000 MW of offshore wind power to the US east coast, from Virginia to New Jersey. Although Cape Winds would not be connected to this project, its success (or lack thereof) may serve as a model for Atlantic Wind Connection and other offshore wind-based initiatives.

Ultimately, it appears more likely than not that Cape Wind will surmount its legal and regulatory challenges, and eventually go online to provide power to regional customers (although given the project’s history, exactly when that will happen remains less than clear). In the interim, many will continue to watch the project closely, as potentially symbolic of the future of offshore wind power generation in the U.S. And beyond this, Cape Wind may offer an instructive example of how even the seemingly most logical of commercialization and investment opportunities can be dampened by a relatively small opposition — if that opposition is sufficiently equipped to promote its cause.

Dick McCarrick is an analyst with Foresight Science & Technology.

Dick McCarrick
Dick McCarrick is an analyst with Foresight Science & Technology.
 
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28 thoughts on “Cape Wind and Offshore Wind Power Generation

  1. It is a shame that the common good of wind energy development off Cape Cod can be so easily derailed by a few rich and politically well connected people. The opposition’s disproportionate influence to wind turbines in the Sound can mostly likely be traced to home ownership that has a view of the turbines.

  2. This long article is very short on facts. The hyperbole paints Cape Wind “green,” when it is far from it. The best that can be truthfully said is that Cape Wind’s energy would be renewable. Cape Wind’s own Environmental Impact Statement paints a dismal picture of any positive impact. A local resident summed it up well: if we are speeding toward a brick wall/climate change at 100 miles per hour, Cape Wind might slow us down to 99. Unfortunately, we still hit the wall. Moreover, the construction process of this massive industrial wind farm will forever alter the Nantucket Sound ecosystem. Just imagine 130 asteroids hitting Massachusetts. Like the picture? Now you have some idea of Cape Wind’s impact on life in the Sound. And just for clarification, North Atlantic Right Whales are CRITICALLY ENDANGERED — thanks to humans. This year, about half of their entire population found abundant food in Cape Cod and Nantucket Sound waters. Dick, I actively support clean energy and many “green” energy projects. However, I would be irresponsible and reckless to support Cape Wind. No industrial development belongs in Nantucket Sound.

  3. One additional point on the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Much of their funding support has come from the fossil fuel industry, from as far away as Alaskan oil interests. The fossil fuel sector is fighting the expansion of renewable energy nationwide, and their involvement in the Cape Wind fight is just one example. Some readers might remember that, in the early days of APNS, Walter Cronkite helped tell their story. But when he learned more about the funders and motives of the Alliance, he publicly withdrew his support of their cause.

  4. Cape Wind is an environmental and economic Boondoggle that’s obsolete. No manufacturing facility will be constructed to roll out obsolete wind turbines. Cape Wind does not want to be subjected to another NEPA review by change of height to align with present day offshore wind turbines.

    Thanks to the APNS, we have dodged this tax and ratepayer gouge for 10 years. They’re doing the work of the AG in Mass who is supposed to protect ratepayers. Instead, she campaigned for Senator Kennedy’s seat using Cape Wind as her vehicle and advocating this project. The AG serves two masters and thus is incompetent.

    Thank You, APNS! You only need one federal lawsuit to prevent the environmental and economic damage Cape Wind would deliver!

  5. Moot point, Ed. Cape Wind Associates, LLC, EMI built their empire on fossil fuel. After proposing Cape Wind, they attempted to build a diesel-fired plant across the street from an elementary school in Chelsea. This is not about fossil fuels, it’s about a shift of wealth from us to them, corporados, who do not give a whit about the environment as evidenced by their actions.

    APNS hasn’t proposed a Boondoggle, so I could care less where their money comes from.

  6. Yes its a boondoggle: Jim Gordon is building a 100 MW toxic biomass incinerator in Gainesville FL, and calling it “clean and green.” It will emit more C02 and particulates than the nearby coal plant.

    He’s also trying to build a 300 MW natural gas burner in the the environmental justice community of Westfield MA.

    It’s not about green energy, its about taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies.
    http://www.nobiomassburn.org
    http://www.stopgrec.org

  7. Cape Wind won’t eliminate much oil or coal burning, since those generators must be kept spinning all the time to keep the lights on when the wind stops. 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound will also have an adverse effect on marine and possibly air navigation.

  8. Ed, some fossil-fuel industrialists are simultaneously pushing alternative energy development. Their hope is to re-monopolize the grid, using the free sources of wind and sun. Localizing clean energy production and democratizing the grid would ensure our nation’s energy security well into the future. Turning our public lands & waters over to big wind & solar, however, will keep us hostage to these eco-mercenaries. So please be careful where you throw stones. You won’t like what you see when the windows break.

  9. The ridiculous comments here highlight McCarrick’s point: a little bit of misinformation goes a long way to distort public perception.

    The biggest threats to Northern Right Whales are boats – perhaps we should just ban boating. The turbines would have wide spacing (about 1/4 mile) between them so whales can swim safely through them.

    Comparing turbine installation to “asteroid impacts” is like saying Habitat for Humanity builds skyscrapers. Ridiculous.

    So called “spinning reserves” are turned off when the turbines spin – they’re not 100% on the entire time. If the wind blows 40% of the time, that’s a direct 40% reduction in fossil fuel use: utilities don’t waste a free resource when they can use it.

    Cape Wind will create new habitat, green jobs and clean energy. Blow, baby, blow!

  10. Miss Reality, you’re entitled to whatever opinions you have, and I’ll fight for your right to express them. But … I think your glasses are scratched. Perhaps in recent history more boats strike North Atlantic Right Whales than other tragedies happen to them, but you left out two important bits of info: (1) human (mis)behavior has always been the biggest threat to these awesome creatures, and (2) boats are restricted when the whales are sighted. So humans have learned SOME lessons. Pile driving 130 monstrous holes into 25+ miles of ecosystem will certainly mess with the whales’ food source, among other things. Like 130 asteroids hitting Massachusetts would mess with humans. Habitat for Humanity? A lot of us believe those houses are bigger than skyscrapers.

  11. Dan, you are likewise entitled to your own opinions, but I think you are the one who is out to lunch with your comments here.

    If more right whales are injured and killed due to boat strikes than due to any other cause … then boat strikes are the main threat to them – period. There are no other important bits of information to convey. Well, maybe one other: that there are ZERO studies that demonstrate a threat to right whales from offshore windfarms. In fact, winfarms will likely increase the local marine foodsource, since it will likely diversify marine ecosystems (much like artificial reefs).

    And the point remains that comparing a wind turbine to an asteroid strike is completely ludicrous. Really, can you possibly expect anyone with an ounce of reasoning capacity to buy into that piece of insanity?

    And if you truly believe that Habitat for Humanity houses are “bigger than skyscrapers”, well… then your grip on reality is indeed tenuous at best.

  12. @Barbara Durkin: Your statement that “This is not about fossil fuels, it’s about a shift of wealth from us to them, corporados”; is completely false. This is all about weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. And as far as any transfers of wealth are concerned, you are already cheerfully transferring your wealth to utility companies, oil industry giants, etc. (your so-called “corporados”); every time you turn on a light or otherwise consume energy.

    And as far as your statement that “APNS hasn’t proposed a Boondoggle, so I could care less where their money comes from” is concerned; I do care where their money comes from. APNS isn’t proposing a boondoggle (neither is Cape Wind); but they sure are foolishly attempting to keep the US completely dependent on fossil energy sources – and they are certainly interfering with our societal response to the threat posed by AGW. And those are issues that actually do matter, unlike the issue motivating the backers of APNS, who simply are playing the NIMBY game to preserve their viewscape. APNS is just playing lousy politics.

  13. If one clicks on the link provided by Dan Friend, one discovers that the grand total of three (count them: just 3!) cited complaints all center on bird mortality studies. So I will provide some counter-links.

    The first, supplied just to provide some useful framework for thought; is for a study on bird mortality related to power lines, communication towers, and wind turbines (http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr191/psw_gtr191_1051-1064_manville.pdf). From page 1058 comes this quote: “at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource
    Area – a facility then containing some 6,500 turbines on 189 km2 (73 mi2) of gently rolling hills just east of San Francisco Bay, California (Davis 1995). Orloff and Flannery (1992) estimated that several hundred raptors were killed each year due to turbine collisions, guy wire strikes, and electrocutions”. So, that’s several hundred birds per year being killed in the immediate vicinity of six thousand five hundred wind turbines – not a very high mortality rate, is it? A few sentences later comes this quote: “Of the variety of wind turbines at the site, the smaller, faster moving, Kenetech-built, lattice-supported turbines caused most of the mortality at Altamont Pass. As part of a re-powering effort, these turbines are now being replaced with slower moving, tubular-supported turbines. While mortality has declined, an average of 40-60 Golden Eagles and several hundred Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels are still estimated to die annually (Hunt 2002)”. This area is part of the Pacific coast migratory flyway, just as Nantucket Sound is a part of the flyway on the east coast. If we scale the observed effects (let’s say 560 birds annually) from 6,500 turbines down to the Cape Wind proposal of 130 turbines, we arrive at perhaps 11 raptor mortalities per year. Eleven! Now while this may well be an underestimate, it is nevertheless based on observed effects, and is thus worthy of consideration. From page 1059 comes this quote: “Howell and Noone (1992) estimated U.S. avian mortality at 0.0 to 0.117 birds/turbine/yr., while in Europe, Winkelman (1992) estimated mortality at 0.1 to 37 birds/turbine/yr. Erickson et al. (2001) reassessed U.S. turbine impact, based on more than 15,000 turbines (some 11,500 in California), and estimated mortality in
    the range of 10,000 to 40,000 (mean = 33,000), with an average of 2.19 avian fatalities/turbine/yr. and 0.033 raptor fatalities/turbine/yr.”. The latter two number translate to a 130-turbine-Cape Wind estimate of 285 total avian deaths/year, and 4 raptors/year.

    From the Audubon Society (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12066651/from/ET/) comes the following quote: “Jack Clarke, advocacy director of Mass Audubon, said extensive studies conducted during the last four years showed that sensitive species, including endangered roseate terns and piping plovers, generally avoid the 24-square-mile footprint of the proposed [Cape Wind] project. ‘Our preliminary conclusion is that the project would not pose a threat to avian species,’ Clarke told The Boston Globe”.

    And here (http://www.capewind.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=24&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0) is a report about some of the methodologies used to study bird populations over Nantucket Sound, in support of the Cape Wind environmental impact studies. Just one quote from this article states “The radar is collecting data for the exhaustive review process for a proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound”.

    The thoroughness and long history of environmental reviews for the Cape Wind project are impressive indeed. From another site (http://www.capewind.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=72&page=1) comes this quote: “For the last four years, ESS Group, Inc. the lead consulting firm on the Cape Wind project has led a group of engineers, geologists, marine biologists, meteorologists, avian consultants and environmental scientists in carefully analyzing all aspects of this project. The research done for the Cape Wind project provides more data about the environment on and around Horseshoe Shoal and Nantucket Sound than has ever existed before”.

  14. Doug:

    Meet your wind developers, UPC companies, and it should become clear to you that this is not about public or environmental benefits:
    http://bjdurk.newsvine.com/_news/2010/11/22/5508920-first-wind-upc-ivpc-chronological-history-

    Mass Audubon has expressed, in writing, conflict of financial interest in the outcome of the permitting decision on Cape Wind. Mass Audubon is an MMS, lead federal regulator, now BOERME, appointed “Key Partner” in the Cape Wind review, thus they should have remained objective under NEPA review They did not. Mass Audubon brass campaigned for Cape Wind offering conditional “support” for this project while under permit review. Their conditional “support” for Cape Wind is that Cape Wind is to fund a service to count carcasses caused by Cape Wind called Adaptive Management, monitoring and mitigation.

    Why would a legitimate NGO advocate for up to 6,600 violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act per year when it’s a strict liability criminal statute?

    Mass Audubon’s comments on the Cape Wind DEIS on February 23, 2005 to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District — Reference File No. NAE-2004-338-1, EOEA No. 12643:

    “By utilizing other bird mortality data provided in the DEIS, Mass Audubon staff scientists arrived at avian mortalities that ranged from 2,300 to 6,600 collision deaths per year.”

    (page 9.)

    http://www.massaudubon.org/PDF/CapeWindDEIS.pdf
    Published: March 28, 2006
    A Cape Wind Challenge To Get It Right
    by Taber Allison and Jack Clarke

    “MASS AUDUBON CHALLENGES the developer of Cape Wind and its permitting agencies to accept comprehensive and rigorous monitoring and mitigation conditions that will reduce the risk to birds and other wildlife. If these conditions are adopted, and remaining data gaps are addressed, Mass Audubon will support Cape Wind, the largest, clean, renewable-energy project in the Northeast…”

    “…Monitoring and mitigation should be funded by Cape Wind with contributions from independent institutions and government agencies as appropriate.”
    http://www.massaudubon.org/news/index.php?id=320&type=editorial

    MA Audubon announces their intent to implement Adaptive Management for the Cape Wind Project “funded by Cape Wind”.

    Mass Audubon “What’s New? June 25, 2010 press release, excerpt:

    “Next Steps for Mass Audubon participation
    Mass Audubon will continue to analyze and report on Cape Wind through:
    1. MMS’ OCS lease arrangement;
    2. ACOE Section 10 permit issued under the US Rivers and Harbors Act;
    3. EMS adaptive management plan; and
    4. Avian monitoring and mitigation plan implementation during the construction and three year post-construction phases of the project.”

    http://www.massaudubon.org/news/index.php?id=1482&type=press

    There has been insufficient avain and zero bat research done on the Cape Wind project according to those with purview over the present Endangered under the ESA, USFWS.
    By Freedom of Information Act we have:

    http://www.peer.org/docs/de/12_23_10_Cape_Wind_emails.pdf

    Thank You,

    Barbara Durkin

  15. Barbara,

    As far as your questioning of the Audubon society is concerned, one could as easily ask why the APNS is so willing to obstruct the advancement of a clean energy project; when that obstruction flies in the face of our societal resonse to AGW – where the issues are far more serious than the mere protection of the viewscapes of some rich APNS backers. Aditionally, if you are so concerned about the objectivity of the Audubon society, then you should not be relying so extensively on their documents to support your arguments. Furthermore, your claim that “this is not about public or environmental benefits” is patently false. This is all about environmental and public benefits – the whole project is a part of our societal response to AGW, energy security concerns, etc. Trying to cast such aspersions only marginalizes your position.

    Many of your quotes make it clear that you (and Dan) have cherry-picked from your reference to support your argument, and therefore you are not being objective. For example, you strive to make it appear that the EIS process was confrontational, and that proper public input and alternative viewpoints were rejected. This picture is false. Additional quotes from your second link provide support for my assertion: “We also thank the Corps for extending the public comment period beyond the required 45 days.”; “While all energy choices have environmental impacts, the potential environmental risks associated with the operation of Cape Wind must be evaluated against the proven destructive effects associated with the production and consumption of fossil fuels.”; “As the DEIS was being drafted, we offered, and you accepted, unsolicited, our primary research data…”; “We would welcome an opportunity to continue working with the Corps” (emphasis mine); “Further, on July 16, 2004 Mass Audubon provided you, at your request, with an independent peer review of a preliminary draft of DEIS Appendix 5.7-H” (emphasis mine); “We appreciate the inclusion of our original data in the DEIS, along with our response to the draft Avian Biological Assessment.”; “While we do not call for a moratorium on Cape Wind…” (emphasis mine); etc. These are all words of the Audubon Society, and are all taken from your own link.

    Also from the same 2005 source: “Mass Audubon and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) have asked that the Corps present a minimum of three (3) years worth of avian information as an important component of the NEPA review”. This request has been amply fulfilled, with more than four years of data collected.

    With respect to the comment regarding an alternative estimate of 2,300 to 6,600 collision deaths per year; I stand by my estimate of 285 avian deaths/year derived from the Alamont Pass study (also a migratory flyway). Note that my independent estimate is very closely aligned with that of the DEIS of 364 bird deaths per year. 2,300 to 6,600 is a ludicrous mis-estimate. Note that human buildings and cars incur far greater numbers of bird deaths per year than from all wind turbines combined – surpassing the wind turbine totals by several orders of magnitude.

  16. Barbara,

    In addition, many of your comments are irrelevant. For example:
    – “…Monitoring and mitigation should be funded by Cape Wind with contributions from independent institutions and government agencies as appropriate”. This is not an argument for, nor is it against; either Cape Wind itself, or the EIS associated with it.

    – “Why would a legitimate NGO advocate for up to 6,600 violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act per year when it’s a strict liability criminal statute?”. This is simply mudslinging – it too is not a valid argument for or against anything.

    – ““…Monitoring and mitigation should be funded by Cape Wind with contributions from independent institutions and government agencies as appropriate”. Also not an argument for or against anything.

    – “MA Audubon announces their intent to … and three year post-construction phases of the project”. Yet again, this is not an argument for or against anything. And it demonstrates nothing with respect to any claimed deficiencies in the EIS.

  17. Barbara,

    Furthermore, your cited Audubon EIS inputs/concerns are from February 2005. My Audubon citation references an article from March, 2006 – over a year later. Therefore, my citation should be taken as being more up-to-date. Indeed, my citation includes this quote: “The Massachusetts Audubon Society has given preliminary support to a proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound after studies allayed concerns that the farm’s turbine blades would cause significant harm to birds” (emphasis mine).

    The clear conclusion here is that, after the ongoing EIS studies took the Audubon Society concerns into account, the Audubon Society was finally satisfied with respect to the EIS; and withdrew the concerns and accepted the validity of the EIS. Your continuing references to the outdated 2005 communication are thus seen to be irrelevant.

  18. And last but not least, the final Audubon citation provided by Barbara contains this quote (the headline and first sentence): “Mass Audubon Supports Cape Wind Energy Project

    Following nearly a decade of independent research and review, Mass Audubon has concluded that the Cape Wind Energy Project (Cape Wind) will not pose an ecologically significant threat to the birds and associated marine habitat of Horseshoe Shoal and Nantucket Sound”. This citation is from 2010. Barbara, your very own citations are working against your whole argument.

    “.

  19. Doug:

    Mass Audubon did not complete the USFWS directed 3 year study of the Cape Wind project area.

    The condition of Mass Audubon’s “support” of a project during NEPA review in which they are involved is a red flag. The Cape Wind-funded contract to “monitor”, (that is to “count”, dead birds), as the condition of their “support” for Cape Wind, is an outrage. Mass Audubon brass have disgraced themselves, internationally, within the ornithological community.

    The Best Science is the federal governments’ by federal law.

    American Bird Conservancy Statement on Cape Wind Decision in Mass.Submitted by Ted Williams on Wed, 04/28/2010 – 11:00. Sad day for anglers, too.

    “American Bird Conservancy is disappointed in the Department of the Interior decision to approve the Cape Wind Project because the science collected for the project on bird collision threats is inadequate, and the site will reduce prime offshore sea-duck foraging habitat. Further, there are data to suggest that loons will likely abandon the area for years to come, and there may be significant impacts to endangered Roseate Terns , which breed in nearby Buzzard’s Bay and feed in Nantucket Sound,” said Dr. Michael Fry Director of Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy. Dr. Fry is Chairman of the Federal Minerals Management Service Environmental Studies Advisory Committee. American Bird Conservancy (www.abcbirds.org) conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator. http://www.flyrodreel.com/blogs/tedwilliams/2010/april/conservancy-statement

  20. Doug:

    Wind energy is not clean or green or environmentally beneficial on land or sea.

    http://bit.ly/olgdVj

    Massive wind turbine blades can’t be recycled. The processing of steel, concrete, (two of the EPA’s worst environmental offenders), and mining of rare earth minerals used in the manufacturing of wind turbines, produces toxic chemicals, carcinogens and radioactive materials. (see the link for photographic evidence).

    Forbes just reported that a new study by Porter Bennett and Brannin McBee analyzed actual emissions data from electric generation plants instead of computer models. Bennett and McBee looked at more than 300,000 hourly records from 2007 through 2009. Results showed that wind energy in California has not reduced sulfur dioxide emissions at all. And, that wind energy is not a cost effective solution for reducing carbon dioxide.

    Plant trees, not turbines, for a cost effective carbon sink. Commercial wind energy in the U.S. got its start when GE bought out Zond Wind that was Enron Wind. Wind energy promises future benefits just like Enron did.

    Jim Gordon is a fossil fuel tycoon attracted by public subsidies-because he’s a business man–not an environmental hero 🙂 Say, “Hi” to him for me. As I’ve said to him before, he’s one of the best salesmen I’ve ever met.

    Most Respectfully,

    Barbara Durkin

  21. Since Barbara seems so intent on promulgating her false views of reality, I offer these additional comments.

    1) Wind energy is indeed effective in reducing CO2 and other fossil fuel pollutants. For every KWhr of wind energy produced and distributed, less fossil fuel power was needed and therefore less was generated – that’s an undeniable fact. The Forbes article mentioned be Barbara cannot dispute that fact. If it is indeed true that SO2 emissions were not measurably reduced, that simply means that there was some combination of a) the data were not reliable, b) care was not taken to properly account for the effects of other sources of SO2 (like automobiles, for example), and c) the state simply used more electricity during the period after wind turbines were in place. In the latter case, statewide SO2 emissions would have been even higher than were measured if the wind farms did not exist. But really, Barbara, it’s a matter of elementary logic: wind farms do displace fossil fuel derived electricity – after all, that’s exactly why wind farms exist in the first place. Do you really think developers, utility companies, and others, are so dumb as to spend money building something that doesn’t work? Try not to be so ridiculous.

    2) So what if “massive wind turbine blades can’t be recycled”? Neither can many coal- oil- or gas- fired power plant parts. And how about recycling those nuclear power plant parts? Care to take a stab at that? In addition, just wait 10 or 20 years – I bet someone will figure out a way to recycle the wind turbine blades.

    3) Wind energy is clean and green and environmentally beneficial on land and sea. It simply stands to reason. After all, it’s free energy – with zero pollutant by products. Even though the foundations and components of a wind turbine do cost energy to produce – so do all the components of any power plant. The difference is, that after construction is complete, the wind turbine produces no pollutants for the entire operating lifetime – probably more than 30 years. And in contrast, every fossil fuel power plant – which also incurred embedded CO2 and other costs to construct – will pollute in vast amounts over the entire lifespan. Year after year after year after …

    4) Tellingly, Barbara Durkin has been involved in a long-winded campaign to obstruct Cape Wind by any means possible. With respect to her continuing attacks on the Audubon Society, she has seemingly engaged in a PR campaign to discount their inputs. She insinuates that the Audubon Society is not being objective, but she has no concrete evidence of that claim. The undeniable reality is that the Audubon Society has consistenly done more to protect natural ecosystems, and birds in general, than has practically any other person or organization – and they have done so for many, many decades, long before environmentalism was even fashionable. They have a long and impressive record indeed of being good stewards of, and tough defenders of, the natural environment. But now Barbara claims, without supporting proof, that the very same organization is now somehow involved in ‘selling out’ the ecosystem of Nantucket Sound, the birds who live there, and the people who surround it. For such an outrageous attack, she should have solid and undeniable evidence in hand – but she has certianly never offered any such proofs. She is simply resorting to an old PR tactic: if you can’t attack the scientific evidence, shift your attacks to the person/organization you are opposing; in hopes that such claims will undermine support for the positions that you oppose.

    5) “The Best Science is the federal governments’ by federal law”. This meaningless statement by Barbara does more to reveal her own deep-rooted biases, than it does to illuminate any ‘federal law’.

  22. Doug, sorry to burst the delusion out there, but reducing GHGs typically is not the first priority of energy brokers now investing in wind farms. Nor is Mr. Gordon the only one partaking from both sides of the dirty/clean energy bowl. GHG reduction, however, is Cape Wind’s advertising spin. It’s called Greenwashing — and when it hits the right target market, it will turn a well-intentioned public into zealots for a cause. Who wins? Why, the business, of course. It’s propaganda, a campaign. Be real –even Cape Wind’s own EIS shows a dismal ROI in regard to GHG reduction. If we’re driving toward a brick wall/climate change at 100 mph, Cape Wind might slow us down to 99. (thanks to the person who wrote that metaphor.) What I get from big wind is they want to tap a free renewable energy source. Some also could be looking for subsidies and other potentially free government money. This last concern has been in the press for several years because Seimens (sp?)is being prosecuted worldwide for numerous bribery schemes involving gov’t. officials. So, Doug, I know you’re a Cape Wind supporter, but your words really fell off the mark: “… that’s exactly why wind farms exist in the first place. Do you really think developers, utility companies, and others, are so dumb as to spend money building something that doesn’t work? Try not to be so ridiculous.” Well, it truly is ridiculous to give away our public lands & waters + our tax dollars for the likes of Cape Wind.

  23. Dan:

    That’s ok, I was under no delusion in the first place. It has never mattered what the primary motivations are of the developers and investors of wind farms. They can be motivated by whatever levels of greed they desire – the thing that really matters is that they are motivated by something. Because that means the wind farms will get built and used; and in turn that means the wind farms will also be reducing GHG pollution. If the developers get rich in the process, well; that’s just old fashioned capitalism at work – nothing wrong with that.

    Your charge that GHG reduction is merely an advertising spin or greenwashing is completely incorrect. As I’ve already noted, every single KWh of electricity produced from any wind farm, Cape Wind included, directly reduces the amount of electricity that has to be produced by fossil fuel derived sources – which clearly does reduce GHG emissions. There is no greenwashing here. The whole advertising situation is equivalent to practically any service or product that is advertised. Take soap for example: do you really think that the soap manufacturer cares whether or not you are clean, or whether your skin smells good or is soft? Hah – they’re just in it for the money. But they still make those advertisments, don’t they? And you still listen to them, and you still buy soap because you do care whether or not you are clean.

    With respect to your metaphor about brick walls, it is completely irrelevant. There is not a single renewable energy project in the world that can, by itself, avoid the collision. Neither can mere energy conservation. But a multitude of projects both can and will contribute to avoiding the colision. Cape Wind is one of those projects, and it represents a portion of the required solution. So get out of the way and let’s get it built.

    By the way, you are off the mark yourself when you talk about an EIS that refers to an ROI. You are mixing your acronyms: a financial term like return on investment (ROI) has nothing to do with an environmental impact statement (EIS). It would appear that you are referencing a document that you have never actually bothered to read yourself. Here is an actual quote from the executive summary of the DEIS: “The Project provides an opportunity, and an example of how to achieve a significant annual and long-term reduction of greenhouse gases…”. And another: “Once online, the Project could displace equivalent energy production from fossil plants that would otherwise annually emit on the order of 1,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas which is a major contributor to global warming)”.

    You state “What I get from big wind is they want to tap a free renewable energy source”. Well, Dan; that’s right – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Guess what? I also want them to tap it; and so do a large majority of people across the country, as well as in Mass. Your apparent opposition to them doing so is in the very small minority.

    Your final remark about giving away our public lands and waters + our tax dollars is also completely wrong. First off, the site in question would be leased – not ‘given away’; which means that the Cape Wind operator would be paying us for the privilege to operate there – not receiving anything from us. The operator/owner also would not be receiving any net tax dollars from us, because the federal subsidies go towards the costs of construction. Far from pocketing any money as a result of constructing the project, the owner/operator would have to pay additional money out of their own pockets to construct; since the federal subsidies are insufficient to pay for the entire construction costs themselves. As usual, you (and Barbara) are playing fast and loose with the actual facts.

  24. The saddest part of Greenwashing comes in the final stages. First is rabid denial and repetitive grasping in the air for straws that just do not exist. The foaming at the jowls is alarming at first, but chuckling with the rest of us puts it into perspective. There’s no use in waiting while this last stage takes its course, so moving on with truly clean, green energy innovations will keep the ball rolling in the right direction. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Doug.

  25. Dan, LOL. I note that you have by now been reduced to taking pot shots at me, as opposed to addressing any of the points I make. There’s a great reason for that shift, of course: your complete failure to meaningfully rebut any of my points. Indeed, the silly arguments you have so far put forth are indefensible to any thinking individual who reads them – that’s why it has been so easy for me (and so much fun) to poke holes in them.

    Your shift in tactics is remarkably similar to the attempts by Barbara Durkins to attack the Audubon Society, as opposed to debating the scientific merits of their EIS inputs.

    What’s that you just said? Something about “rabid denial and repetitive grasping in the air for straws”? Seems that the only thing you still don’t quite understand is the part about who is doing the grasping and the denying. And, I might add, the part about who is partaking in the PR smear campaign tactics instead of sticking to rational debating logic.

    To sum up our conversation to date:

    – You tried to equate wind turbines to asteroid strikes. Could anything be more laughable?

    – You expresed your belief that Habitat For Humanity houses are bigger than skyscrapers. OK, maybe there is something more laughable than the above…

    – You then claimed that the Cape Wind EIS was botched, and provided a link that documented precisely three complaints to ‘back up’ your claim. My reply put that claim to rest with more extensive documentation combined with some rational debate. You have been unable or unwilling to attempt to rebut my logic.

    – You then claimed that the GHG reduction potential of Cape Wind was mere greenwashing and adversising spin. By that point in the general conversation, I had already provided rational debate that contradicts your (unsupported) claim. Again, you have been unable or unwilling to attempt to rebut my points.

    – Along the way, you threw in a reference to the Cape Wind EIS; which you have apparently never bothered to actually read for yourself. I replied with some actual quotes from the EIS executive summary that directly contradict the point you were trying to support with your EIS reference. I have yet to hear any attempt to rebut my counter-documentation about this point, either.

    – You then claimed that our public lands and waters were being “given away”. I promptly showed your claim in this instance to be as false as your other claims above. Again, no rebuttal on your part…

    – Finally, you end with a general personal attack on me, that represents the complete change in PR tactics that I refer to above.

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