Cape Wind

By Francis I. Broadhurst

The Corps of Engineers charged with reviewing the proposed Wind-Energy park in Nantucket Sound is preparing to release its environmental impact statement. That's good. But do not underestimate opponents of this project which is a small step toward reducing our reliance on coal, gas and oil all of major polluters of our environment.

From the outset the well-funded Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound has done everything in its power to put stumbling blocks in the way of Cape Wind Associates and its principal, Jim Gordon.

Before it changed leadership and put adults in charge, the Alliance distinguished itself with a public relations campaign fraught with deception, distortions and just plain lies. I said at the outset of this three-year battle the only winners would be paid public relations flacks, lawyers and OPEC.

Having inherited a flawed campaign, Susan Nickerson has tried to make hay while the sun is shining. Her modus operandi - developed over many years on the Barnstable Conservation Commission, the APCC and the Cape Cod Commission-is to demand perfection and seek delay.

Delay costs entrepreneurs not only time, but money.

Ms. Nickerson lost me when she picked up from her predecessors asking the courts to stop construction of the data collection tower essential for legitimate scientific inquiry. Ernie Corrigan, a former newsman for whom I have respect and affection, told me over lunch recently the law suit was necessary to preserve the Alliance's legal rights for future actions. He admitted they should have fired some top Alliance staffers when it became clear they were using deceptive tactics. Instead they were allowed to resign. They made so many blunders with their childish antics they destroyed the Alliance's credibility-probably beyond repair.

With the impending release of the draft environmental impact study, Alliance spokesmen are again raising doubts and seeking delays. They question the Corps' objectivity claiming the Alliance has been shut out of the process and accuse the Corps of relying too heavily on work done by consultants paid by Cape Wind. This tactic smears the scientists involved. It is unfair and unseemly.

The Corps chose the environmental consultants. Cape Wind had no say. But Cape Wind is required by law to pay the consultants.

Audra Parker, who joined Corrigan and me for our frank discussion, thinks I have been unfair in my diatribes against the Alliance for past sins. She makes the point that both sides have been guilty of overkill.

Both sides should moderate their rhetoric. Surveys and studies by opposing experts must be weighed and measured. Truth may lie between the extremes. Alliance allies unfortunately have not cooled their rhetoric and continue to pursue delaying tactics.

The latest cause celebre is news that the wind turbines may be seen from some of our historic lighthouses. "We must preserve our national heritage!" Alliance supporters say. The "view" seems to be their paramount concern. I respectfully disagree.

Our real national heritage is vision for the future not a view. That vision includes freeing America from dependency on foreign powers. That includes OPEC nations and any country or interest that would set us back economically and culturally.

Some things go together like bread and butter, peaches and cream. Today when terrorists and foreign nations threaten economic and cultural ruin for America, two headlines go together. One trumpets, "Record oil and natural gas prices" the other blares, "Stock market takes nose dive". Another warns, "Rising gas and oil prices fuel inflation."

The fight for energy independence is a more in keeping with America's national heritage than any view. Besides, I think the turbines are a thing of beauty.

Broadcast September 15, 2004.

Francis Broadhurst lives in Centreville and is a regular contributor to the Cape Cod Times and WCAI-WNAN.