Pirates and Miners
By Sean Corcoran
It was a full house at the Mattacheese
Middle School in Yarmouth last night, where the
federal Minerals Management Service held a public
hearing to discuss its draft environmental impact
statement on a proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
Officials from the Minerals Management
Service were welcomed to their first public hearing on
the Cape and Islands with signs, songs and even a
group of people dressed as pirates and shouting their
opposition to the project.
But once the hearing was underway inside the school,
the crowd of nearly a thousand people was mostly
respectful and subdued as they commented on a
developers plan to install 130 wind turbines on
Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound.
57-year-old Steven Tucker of Barnstable rose to
support Cape Wind, saying he's lived almost his entire
on Cape Cod, spending much of his time as a contractor
traveling between the Cape and Nantucket. But the past
seven years have been agonizing, he said, as the
project has been publicly debated, and in his view,
not always truthfully.
: "I firmly believe this project to be in
the right place and long overdue. The residents of CC
have been too long subjected to the tall tales of woe
and destruction by the well-funded opponents. The air
we breath, the waters we drink and swim in, the fish,
the farm products we eat are polluted, and are
becoming much more so each and every day. Cape Wind is
an opportunity for our community to start to reverse
this catastrophic environmental disaster we are
bequeathing to our children and our grandchildren to
Nearly all of the people who took to the microphone
were either politicians or members of organized groups
opposing or supporting the project. In his remarks,
Cape and Islands' District Attorney Michael O'Keefe
asked MMS officials to study whether the wind farm
would be a hazard to boats and airplanes.
"I can't help but think, despite whatever
studies there may have been generated by the
proponents of this project to the contrary, that
putting as many of these items as is being suggested,
at the height of 140 feet, in waters that are so close
to the islands of Nantucket and MV, as well as the
coast of Massachusetts, is asking that they be run
into by either a plane or a boat. It seems to me that
that has not been given its full weight."
Overall, proponents of the project stressed the need
for clean energy in the United States, and depicted
opponents as a group motivated largely by a desire to
retain unspoiled views of Nantucket Sound.
On the other side, many of those
against Cape Wind said they support alternative energy
projects, but this one would be poorly located. Added
to the mix were several speakers from Kentucky and
West Virginia, who told emotional stories about how
strip mining for coal is destroying their states, and
they pleaded with Cape Codders to end their opposition
to the renewable energy project.
The MMS will hold another hearing tonight on
Nantucket, followed by a hearings on Martha's Vineyard
and then in Boston on Thursday. The
public comment period ends April 21, and MMS final
environmental impact statement is expected to be
released in the fall.