Wednesday, February 16, 2005

State of Massachusetts Contemplating Boundary Change in Order to Assert Jurisdiction Over Cape Wind Project

This just in from Boston.com: the State of Massachusetts is contemplating a change in the state's coastline in order to assert jurisdiction over a proposal to construct a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. According to the report "State officials said Tuesday that a recently discovered pile of rocks in Nantucket Sound could change the state's offshore border and expand state-controlled water by about 12 square miles. That would push back federal territorial water and could affect a developer's bid to erect the nation's first offshore wind power farm in the sound."

The discovery of this pile of rocks comes just weeks after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from citizens in Massachusetts who disagreed with the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision's to uphold federal jurisdiction over the Cape Wind proposal. As we've explained in previous posts, federal law provides the U.S Army Corps of Engineers exclusive authority over projects that are within territorial U.S. waters, but more than three miles from shore. The Cape Wind Project currently sits just outside of the three mile boundary - but apparently not for long.

However, even with the change, only 10-13 of the 130 turbines would fall within the new jurisdictional boundary, and Cape Wind Associates, the project proponents, have expressed doubt that the change would have any substantive effect on their proposal. But the proposed adjustment gives clear indication of the political influence held by opponents, including Gov. Mitt Romney, who has previously taken a hard line against construction of the project.

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