Monday, April 09, 2007

State Review gives Cape Wind Project Green Light; Federal Review Delayed...Again

Last week the State of Massachusetts gave the Cape Wind Project a green light after reviewing the Final Environmental Impact Report for the project. According to the Press Release from the Massachusetts Executive Office on Environmental Affairs, Secretary Ian Bowels concluded that "the Final Environmental Report submitted by Cape Wind wind farm project 'adequately and properly complies' with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act." The final approval was based, in part, on a $10 million mitigation package, consisting of $76,000 for restoration of bird habitat in Buzzards Bay, $4.22 million for natural resource preservation and marine habitat protection, and $5.6 million in federal lease payments. The full MEPA certificate for the Cape Wind project can be found on the EOEA website.

With the state permitting hurdle cleared, things were looking up for the Cape Wind project, but bad news over the weekend: the Boston Globe reports that the Mineral Management Service ("MMS") has announced that the Federal environmental review of the Cape Wind project will be delayed...again. For those keeping track, the environmental review process for this project is entering its sixth year. As we reported late last year, the federal environmental review process essentially started over when Congress transfered jurisdiction over permitting for offshore wind projects from the Corps of Engineers to the MMS (which is located in the Department of the Interior). MMS was scheduled to publish its draft environmental impact statement this month, but has now pushed back the scheduled release date until late summer (at the earliest).

According to Nicolette Nye, spokesman for the MMS, the delay is due to the fact that the Cape Wind Project is one of the first offshore wind project proposed in the U.S., and presents some complex environmental impact isssues:

"Offshore alternative energy is a new frontier for the nation," Nye said. "Thus the agency is proceeding with the review of the Cape Wind Energy Project in an appropriately deliberate and diligent manner."

But opponents and proponents seem to be speculating that the delay may mean trouble for the project. Stay tuned.

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