¶ … Cape Wind Project proposed for Cape Cod, and the political, economic, and social impacts to Cape Cod and Nantucket. The Cape Wind Project is a proposed wind-turbine project off the shoreline of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Supporters of the project believe it is the right clean-air, renewable energy project for the area, and it will negate the need for an old, outdated fossil fuel electrical generating plant. Opponents believe it is the wrong project for the area, and it will reduce their quality of life, as well as block local fishermen from their livelihoods. Controversial and very public, the project has been debated since 2001, and it still has not begun construction. While the project does boast many supporters, those who oppose it are more telling to the alleged merits of the project. For example, my good friend Senator Ted Kennedy, a long-term champion of environmental and social causes, deplores the project, perhaps even more than I do. The two authors I referenced continue, "And Ted Kennedy loathed Cape Wind with an unwavering ardor that curiously belied the environmental ideals he so often proclaimed from the floor of the U.S. Senate" (Williams and Whitcomb xviii). Along with Senator Kennedy, there is a long list of distinguished political figures who oppose the project, including Congressman William Delahunt, State Senate President Therese Murray, State Senator Robert O'Leary, and many, many local town boards and citizens.
I am David McCullough, author and historian, and I live full time on Cape Cod. I am adamantly opposed to the Cape Wind project for a number of compelling reasons. First and foremost, in my mind, is that Nantucket Sound is the people's precious resource, not a privately held piece of property to be developed for profit. It is a playground for the people, but it is an economic resource, as well. Local fishermen make their livelihoods from the Sound, and especially from Horseshoe Shoals, where the farm would be located. Two writers who wrote a book about the project, (in a positive light, I might add), note, "Let's not lose sight of the fact that this is a public resource, that the waters and the seabed are owned by the American people,' Delahunt continued (Williams and Whitcomb xviii). Thus, creating this wind farm on public property is tantamount to stealing from the public, and I cannot countenance that position. As a historian, I see the Sound as a historic resource, as well, a resource for the people to historically use for recreation and social reflection, a place to unwind, enjoy, and soak in. The wind turbines would be visible from the shoreline, creating nothing more than visual pollution and degradation, at the cost of any citizen who uses or enjoys the natural beauty of this great resource.
The economic cost would be detrimental, as well. First, the local fishermen who rely on Nantucket Sound would lose income, because they would no longer be able to fish in the area. The local Save our Sound (SOS) organization's editors back me up on this point. They write, "The Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership, which represents 18 commercial fishing organizations, says that navigation of mobile fishing gear between the 130 towers would be hazardous or impossible and, in short, Cape Wind would displace commercial fishing from Nantucket Sound" ("The Economy"). Of course, these fishing organizations all oppose the wind farm, as I do, and I understand their concern.
In addition, the developers of the project have been misleading the public about the costs of the project, and the costs of the electricity it will produce. The federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) is the federal agency in charge of assessing and approving the wind farm, but it has failed to inform the public on the true costs of the project. Current electricity prices in Massachusetts average about $66 per Megawatt Hour (MWh), and MMS asserts costs for the Cape Wind Project could go as high as $122 MWh, or even higher if federal subsidies for the project are factored in ("The Economy"). This has been the case in other projected wind farm projects, and has been the reason many have been canceled or put on hold. The SOS editors continue, "Failing to be able to offer attractive long-term market rates, several other offshore projects have been cancelled in the last year. Following the termination of a multibillion-dollar project off the coast of Texas, the controversial Long Island Power Authority project was also cancelled" ("The Economy"). This does not even begin to address the economic concerns of lost tourism dollars due to the project, and the loss in property values for any properties situated on the Cape, which will "enjoy" a view of this massive project. Economically, the project is a massive white elephant, and a very visible one, as well.
I now turn my position to the ...
In conclusion, my position is one of adamant denial of this project. It goal's are arguable, the economics does not make sense, it will harm the environment and the pristine waters of Nantucket Sound, and it will do away with the livelihoods of some of the region's oldest and most respected family businesses, local fishermen who make their living on these public waters. My position remains firm, and I will not rest until I see this project's ultimate denial.
My esteemed colleagues, fellow citizens, and members of the hearing board.
As you know, I am historian and author David McCullough, a resident of the town of Martha's Vineyard on Cape Cod for over thirty years. As you are also aware, there are a great number of us, many at this hearing today, that adamantly oppose the Cape Wind Project proposed for the Nantucket Sound. This project, debated for over eight years, is of great distress to me and other opponents for a number of reasons, from economic to social and beyond, and I truly believe it is not the best use of the Sound and its resources, and it will harm our communities in profound and long-lasting ways.
I believe Nantucket Sound is a national treasure, and to deface it in this manner would be akin to defacing the Lincoln Memorial. The Sound, like the Memorial, is in the public trust, and as such, it should not be open to development for private gain by private firms. Certainly, the wind farm will be unsightly and easily seen from nearly the entire southern shoreline of the Cape, but it will be more than unsightly. It will disrupt the natural beauty of the area, construction will disrupt the habitat of many native species in the area, and it will disrupt the recreational activities of thousands of Cape residents and the tourists who flock to the Cape every summer to escape the heat and enjoy the beauty the island has to offer. The Sound offers more than recreation, it belongs to the people, and the people should have a say in how it is managed. This project may be the right project for another area, and I want to make it clear that I do not oppose wind projects in general; I simply oppose them when they are located in pristine areas that should be held in trust for the people and future generations. This project should not be located in Nantucket Sound, period, it should be located on land, or out in deeper waters, both of which have been proven to be better locations for these types of wind farm projects ("The Economy").
As you can imagine, it is not simply the esthetics of the project that I and so many other island residents oppose. There are some major economic concerns that will impact the area for years to come. The developers of the project believe that the project will be good for the economy of the area, will add jobs, and will actually add to tourism. The editors of the Cape Wind Associates Web page note, "Cape Wind will become a major point of interest for existing and new travelers to Cape Cod and the Islands, as has been the case at other wind farms around the world. There is not a single example in the world of a wind farm, on land or offshore, that has harmed local tourism" ("FAQs"). However, they provide no hard numbers or other evidence to back up these and other economic claims, while SOS, the Save out Sound organization, has hard numbers to show that Cape Wind will indeed adversely affect the economy. They clearly state that a study by the Beacon Hill Institute showed exactly the opposite. The study "calculated: a reduction in employment of 1173-2533 jobs, a reduction in tourist spending of $57 million to $123 million, a related drop in output of $94 million to $203 million and a drop in earnings of $28 million to $61 million, and a loss in property values of $1.35 billion" ("The Economy"). Some of the most prestigious and well-known residents who live on…
While the project does boast many supporters, those who oppose it are more telling to the alleged merits of the project. For example, my good friend Senator Ted Kennedy, a long-term champion of environmental and social causes, deplores the project, perhaps even more than I do. The two authors I referenced continue, "And Ted Kennedy loathed Cape Wind with an unwavering ardor that curiously belied the environmental ideals he so often proclaimed from the floor of the U.S. Senate" (Williams and Whitcomb xviii). Along with Senator Kennedy, there is a long list of distinguished political figures who oppose the project, including Congressman William Delahunt, State Senate President Therese Murray, State Senator Robert O'Leary, and many, many local town boards and citizens.
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