Cape and Islands Residents Split on Wind Farm.
Cape and Islands residents remain evenly divided on whether the Cape Wind project
should be approved. And despite three years of public hearings and intense media
coverage, nearly a quarter say they haven't made up their minds on the issue.
Those are the results of a poll commissioned by the Cape and Islands NPR Stations and
the Cape Cod Times
conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth Center for Policy
Altogether, 39.1% of respondents oppose the wind farm plan which, if approved, would
place 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound. 37.2% support the project. With a margin of
error of plus or minus four percent, those figures represent a statistical tie.
Support for Cape Wind
The relatively large number of undecideds is not due to ignorance of the project. 93% of
respondents told UMass pollsters that they're aware of the Cape Wind proposal.
The 93% awareness figure is higher than the percentage of Americans who can name
the president in some national surveys.
Awareness of Cape Wind
Cape Wind supporters argue that the nation's first offshore wind farm could provide
an average of 75% of the Cape's power needs using a clean, renewable energy
Opponents argue that the 24 square mile project would despoil the Sound both
aesthetically and ecologically.
The ambitious and controversial proposal is currently being given a final review by the
Army Corps of Engineers which is the lead permitting agency. Last November, the Corps
issued a draft environmental impact statement that was generally seen as favorable to
the project. The authors of the Corps report wrote that the Cape Wind proposal was
"an opportunity and an example of how to achieve a . . . significant
reduction of greenhouse gases . . . to help stem global warming." But
the release of the report set off a firestorm of protests from opposition groups during four
contentious public hearings and in subsequent filings by the Environmental Protection
Agency, the Massachusetts Audubon Society and others.
The Cape and Islands NPR Stations and Cape Cod Times poll shows that support -- and
opposition -- for the project on the Cape and Islands cross party lines, as well as
disparities in age and income, according to Dr. Clyde Barrow who headed the polling
project for UMass. "There were no significant differences by party identification,
none by age or income. So the kinds of demographic differences you might ordinarily
expect just aren't there. I think it is probably because the Cape Wind issue is one of
these odd issues that's not easily classifiable on an ideological scale.
Environmentalists themselves are split on the issue."
One significant difference reflected in the poll appears to be geographic. Only 31.6% of
Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard residents favor the project, compared to 46.4% on
the Lower Cape, 40.6% on the Upper Cape and 33.7% on the Mid-Cape. The poll found
Cape Wind opponents outnumber supporters in towns that overlook Nantucket Sound,
42% to 34%. In all other local towns Bourne, Sandwich, Brewster, Orleans,Eastham,
Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown supporters outnumber opponents 44% to 33%.
Awareness of Cape Wind by Region
Support for Cape Wind by Region
Audra Parker of the
Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound
which opposes Cape Wind said
the geographic disparity in the poll reflects the "strong opposition of the areas most
to bear the negative economic impact" of the project if built. She called the
closeness of the poll results and the large number of undecideds reflections of "the
divisiveness and conflict over this issue" on the Cape and Islands.
Mark Rodgers of Cape Wind
Associates said he's "grateful for the level of support" for the project
reflected in the poll. He said other types of energy projects would be envious of that level
of local support. He expects that in the future some who are now undecided or opposed
will come around to support the project.
The telephone survey was conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth
Center for Policy Analysis
using a survey instrument developed by the Cape Cod Times
and the Cape and Islands NPR Stations. A total of 648 telephone interviews were
conducted from May 2 to May 10, 2005 for a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.
General Poll Information
Cape and Islands
Cape and Islands
Cape and Islands
2004 Cape Cod Times-
Cape and Islands NPR Stations poll