Sacred Land News

January 17, 2010
Nantucket Wind Farm Tests Administration’s Commitment to Native Americans
Posted by: Amberly Polidor

A computer-simulated view of what the Cape Wind park would look like, viewed from 6.5 miles away at Craigsville, Mass. Photo by <a href=''>Cape Wind</a>.In a first test of the Obama administration’s promise to honor the needs of Native Americans in policy- and decision-making, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met with local tribes as a step to determine whether to approve a massive offshore wind-farm project in Massachusett’s Nantucket Sound.

Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag tribes have been fighting the Cape Wind project since 2004. They claim the wind farm — which would include 130 turbines, each 440 feet tall — would obstruct their view of the rising sun and the ocean, interfering with rituals and ceremonies. In addition, the shoal on which the turbines would be built was once dry land and contains sacred burial sites.

On Jan. 4 the National Park Service, in response to a claim by the affected tribes, announced that Nantucket Sound was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which could potentially delay or deny the Cape Wind project. The claim appears to refer to some 500 square miles of Nantucket Sound; never has a Native American claim over such a large area of water been approved.

Salazar, who must sign off on a federal permit before the project can move forward, met on Jan. 13 with all the major stakeholders, including tribal representatives, to try to reach a compromise.

“This meeting, I believe, is going to be the first test of whether or not we’re getting lip service and rhetoric from the administration or whether they’re truly going to hear the tribal nations — whether they’re going to pay attention and try to help us or whether it’s business as usual,” Cheryl Andews-Maltais, chair of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe, said.

Opponents are asking for the project to be relocated to a less instrusive part of the sound. Salazar pledged a resolution by the end of April.

The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service is accepting public comments on the historic preservation aspects of the project until Feb. 12. Click here to learn how to submit your comments.



As a colonial-rooted Cape Cod native who firmly believes in the sanctity of our maritime heritage, I am writing to ardently express my steadfast support for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Based upon sensible logic, data and reasoning, I am also conversely opposed to the controversial Cape Wind Project which seeks to despoil and rob us of the pristine nautical legacy bestowed by our forefathers. As a result of the likely profound damaging regional financial, ecological and public safety consequences Cape Wind would wrought upon us all, it should not be allowed to proceed forward to fruition.

The project poses a cogent danger to essential air and sea navigation. Siting the project in Nantucket Sound is a breach of the public trust. Contrary to their sham claims, the cost of the electricity which the project will produce would not be cheap or competitive. It would be an unbearable fiscal burden hoisted upon us without our sanction or consent. Furthermore, it will represent a deleterious local economic blow by it’s absconding of undeserved taxpayer-funded subsidies, forced real estate devaluations, and lost revenues from commercial and tourism activities. The proposed one hundred thirty wind turbines will perpetually cause unsightly visual contamination and distressing noise pollution. Finally, Cape Wind will unnecessarily endanger a critical marine and wildlife habitat.

Off-shore deep water wind has surfaced as a cost-effective and technologically feasible option in lieu of the Nantucket Sound situated Cape Wind Project. Cape Wind has chosen a location which possesses countless expenses as well as hazards to public safety, the marine environment, and the local economy. Deeper-water sites offer more powerful winds and the advantages of clean renewable energy without surrendering the irreplaceable natural beauty of Nantucket Sound.

More distantly sited off-shore locations guarantee the advantages of clean wind power without many of the harmful effects of close-shore siting. Furthermore, there would be little harmful impact upon air and marine navigational safety and local tourist-based economies.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) estimated a total off-shore wind energy resource of over 1000 GW. The potential for deep water locations greater than 30 m (or 100 feet) is enormous. Approximately ninety percent of the off-shore wind potential in the United States resides in deep water.

With the aforesaid thoughtful rationales in mind, along with the inherently unfair and inequitable nature of the proposed Cape Wind Project itself, it must not become a reality which will forever doom our children and grandchildren to a ghastly socially inhumane legacy.

Ron Beaty
West Barnstable, MA

Thanks for your comment and additional information Ron!

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