Nantucket Sound's Possible Historic Listing May Delay Cape Wind Farm Construction

Plans for a proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod took a blow yesterday when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that Nantucket Sound is eligible for historic listing. The move could delay construction of the 130 turbines planned for a 24-square-mile area in federal waters, some 4.7 miles from shore. Local homeowners, tribes, and environmental groups, object to the Cape Wind project, which was first proposed in 2001.

On Monday, the National Park Service’s Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places decided that Nantucket sound is eligible for historic listing due to its significance as a traditional cultural property. (That's right, the NPS has a position referred to as the ‘Keeper’—it makes the agency sound rather sporty, or, for Harry Potter fans, perhaps a bit magical.)

The AP reports:
The Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes say the designation, which would come with new regulations for activity on the sound, is needed to preserve the tribe's sacred rituals, which include a clear view of the sunrise across waters where the turbines for the Cape Wind project would be built.

In a press release, Salazar said that he’s gathering stakeholders together to try and reach a compromise by March 1 that would “minimize and mitigate Cape Wind’s potential impacts on historic and cultural resources.”

“America’s vast offshore wind resources offer exciting potential for our clean energy economy and for our nation’s efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Secretary Salazar. “But as we begin to develop these resources, we must ensure that we are doing so in the right way and in the right places.”

For those of you wondering how the offshore wind farm might affect birds, the Executive Summary of the Environmental Impact Statement breaks down the impact:
-negligible impact on raptors
-minor to moderate impact on passerines
-negligible to moderate impact on coastal birds
-negligible to major impact on marine birds

[photo: Hans Hillewaert]

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