the (new) american worker


As Gulf Cleanup Continues, Wind Power Looks, Well, Pretty Good

After months and months of deliberations, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar finally gave the federal go-ahead for Massachusetts developer Jim Gordon and his offshore windfarm project Cape Wind late last month. While a huge boon for wind-power advocates, the project still faces a series of challenging hurdles – not the least of which is clearing from the FAA, which still must  determine whether the 130-turbine wind farm will interfere with air traffic control operations. Still, as a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to wreck havoc on the fragile environment and economy of that region, it seems like Salazar’s decision could not be better timed.

As a massive offshore oil drilling spill threatens the Gulf coast, the federal approval of the offshore wind farm project Cape Wind could not have been better timed.

As I’ve written previously, a couple friends of mine recently wrapped production on a years-long documentary of the fierce battle between Gordon’s supporters and detractors – the result, Cape Wind: The Fight for the Future of Power in America premieres soon and should be an exceptional inside look at a battle that has had national implications for America’s energy future. In light of Salazar’s exciting decision, and the incongruity of the implications of wind power and the drilling tragedy in the Gulf, I am sharing a headline from the Huffington Post I came across recently: “BREAKING: LARGE AIR SPILL AT WIND FARM. NO THREATS REPORTED. SOME CLAIM TO ENJOY THE BREEZE. ”

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Breaking the ‘Cape Wind’ Model
February 21, 2010, 9:09 am
Filed under: Washington | Tags: , ,

Over the past couple years, I have had the good fortune of assisting two amazing young men, Robbie Gemmel and Dan Coffin, in their years-long documentary film project on the political and environmental controversies surrounding the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.

Developer Jim Gordon's attempt to put a wind farm off the coast of Nantucket Island has been a political nightmare - one that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar now suggests won't be repeated for future renewables projects.

Anyone familiar with the project knows the Cape Wind developer, Jim Gordon, has for almost a decade attempted to bring a wind farm to the Massachusetts coastline. With the potential to power up to 75 percent of the electricity needs of Massachusetts’ Cape and Islands, Gordon’s wind farm would sit 15-20 miles off the coast of … one of the wealthiest communities in America, Nantucket Island. And herein has always lay the problem. A small, but deep-pocketed, group – The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound – has fought Gordon every step of the way, claiming everything from environmental damage to the devastation of longshoremen economy. What has always struck me is how willing some people are to “go green,” carrying the requisite cloth bags to the grocery store, etc, but ask them to make a true commitment, and suddenly “green” loses its sexiness. Despite Gordon’s claims that these wind turbines would forever just be a “prick” on the Nantucket horizon, the sheer hysteria of the opposition always tends to conjure up images of hulking turbines smack dab on back (sea-facing) porches.

The project continues to drag on, with most of the questions now left unproven sheerly political. Is Obama really on board? What happens now that Ted Kennedy – oddly, a longtime ally of the opposition – has passed away? So, a statement from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar caught my eye today, as it seems to suggest Salazar now seems intent to promise that the Obama administration’s recent forward motion on wind and renewable projects does not promise the same types of bureaucratic nightmares that have befallen Gordon and his Cape Wind project. The following quote from the Boston Globe does seem to suggest positive headwinds for future wind farm development:

On Cape Wind controversy:

“We were able to break that logjam, and there are a set of rules now,’’ he [Salazar] said, adding that future projects “won’t be subjected to the same kind of time frame as Cape Wind.’’

Of course, this statement is somewhat odd considering that Salazar is still weighing the next step on Cape Wind. So, perhaps what we should really take from this statement is: the Obama administration is all for wind projects, except for in the backyards of wealthy donors?

–Mia Lamar