Less than two weeks ago, Iowa Governor Chet Culver and Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri released the “Great Expectations” wind energy report as commissioned by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition. The two governors met with Obama to share their findings, one of which is strong support for coastal, deep water and offshore wind energy technology, research and investment. The report states, “Congress must approve legislation that will allow for the efficient and timely review of wind projects on federal lands and in offshore coastal regions.” The first offshore wind project under federal consideration: Cape Wind, an offshore project that is set to be developed in Nantucket Sound and the winds are blowing furiously against approval for the project.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazer is set to make a historic decision on the project this month and to help make his decision, has reached out to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to provide comments and recommendations that will factor into his decision. The ACHP has recommended that he not approve the project.
ACHP states, “The historic properties affected by the Project are significant, extensive, and closely interrelated. The Project will adversely affect 34 historic properties including 16 historic districts and 12 individually 2 significant historic properties on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island, and six properties of religious and cultural significance to tribes, including Nantucket Sound itself. These districts and standing structures reflect the broad array of properties that represent the rich and unique architectural, social, and cultural history of Cape Cod and the Islands.”
They continue, “Adverse effects on historic properties will be direct and indirect, cannot be avoided, and cannot be satisfactorily mitigated.”
The ACHP findings are raising the debate about offshore wind energy to a fever pitch and putting the Obama administration between a rock and a hard place. Does the administration, vocal in its support of offshore wind development make a choice for domestically produced renewable energy or to preserve a historic area? Nantucket Sound has been proposed for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, by ACHP, for its significance to the tribes and early American history and industry.
If the administration’s findings are in line with their energy choices last week (they approved offshore drilling and drilling in sensitive areas of Alaska) then my bet is the Obama administration doesn’t have the courage to make the choice for renewable energy. With criticisms flying about his decision to drill in pristine areas of Alaska, I don’t think the administration can absorb another “blight” on the American landscape so soon.