Cape Wind: Weeks Away from Approval?

Eight long years after Energy Management Inc. (EMI) began the permitting process for Cape Wind, its proposed billion-dollar wind farm offshore from Cape Cod, the Massachusetts project may be in sight of final approval. In early November, United States Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that he hoped his agency would make a final decision on Cape Wind by the end of the year. Then, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey urged Salazar to further expedite the review process and approve the construction of 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound before next month’s international climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

But as has been the norm for Cape Wind, two steps forward, one step back. In short order, the Massachusetts Historical Society agreed with local Native American tribes that the Nantucket Sound is eligible to be listed as traditional cultural property on the National Register of Historic Places. Such a listing, if affirmed by the National Parks Service, would significantly delay the project by imposing additional permitting requirements. At Massachusetts’ Fifth (Annual) Conference on Clean Energy on Nov. 12, Mark Rodgers, Communications Director for Cape Wind, expressed optimism that the wind project would still be approved before the end of the year. “We think the National Park Service is going to make an expeditious decision in just a few weeks,” said Rodgers. “Never before has open ocean been declared traditional cultural property.” If the Department of Interior and the National Park Service rule in EMI’s favor, Rodgers said Cape Wind could begin construction by the end of next year and have the wind farm up and running by the end of 2012.

Guest blogger Yoni Cohen is focusing on green business as a joint-degree student at the Yale Law School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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