A blow to Cape Wind opponents

The never-ending Cape Wind battle has been somewhat like the fight between King Arthur and the Black Knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” with the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound in the role of the Black Knight.

The latest hit for the pugnacious Alliance comes from the Federal Aviation Administration, which ruled for the fourth time that the proposed 440-foot turbines do not pose a danger to airplanes flying overhead. The agency had to issue the newest ruling after a federal court struck down its earlier decision because the judge did not think the FAA had fully investigated the dangers from the 130-turbine wind farm that will cover 25 square miles. In addition, a Congressional inquiry – which many Democrats say is politically driven – is looking into emails between members of the Obama administration and FAA officials to determine if there was pressure to approve the first-ever ocean wind farm.

Much like the ocean tides, the support for Cape Wind is ebbing and flowing, with one-time opponents changing their minds about the impact while former fence-straddlers are seeing the benefit of taking the side of Cape residents (read: voters) in an election year. In June, the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen’s Association dropped its suit against Cape Wind in exchange for an undisclosed financial settlement that allowed the members to start a nonprofit that will oversee permitting around the structures for fishermen.

The issue will play out both locally and nationally in the campaigns. While Republicans are hammering President Obama over his push for green technology and point to Cape Wind as one of those pressure points, it is a clear division between Sen. Scott Brown, who has moved from being concerned to outright opposition, and Elizabeth Warren, who is a full-throated supporter of the project.

The FAA decision, if it stands, is some good news for the project as it has begun soliciting investors for the estimated $2 billion in construction costs. But don’t think you’ll see the blades spinning soon. Audra Parker, CEO of the Alliance who has yet to find a ruling against her that she doesn’t see flaws within, vows the fight is not over, and there’s no reason to disbelieve her.

“It is outrageous that this approval comes in the face of last year’s court decision revoking Cape Wind’s aviation safety permit, and in the midst of a Congressional investigation into the political pressure that enabled that permit to be granted originally,” Parker said in a statement. “No pilot or passenger should allow this politically-driven decision to stand. This decision can once again be appealed. With one victory behind us, there is no reason to believe we won’t win again.”  

In other words, “It’s only a flesh wound.”

                                                                                                                                     –JACK SULLIVAN


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