This confederacy could be labeled as simple bipartisan spooning — except there’s bipartisan opposition to the project, too.
The late Ted Kennedy was well known for calling the Cape Wind deal a “special-interest giveaway.” Current Republican senator Scott Brown, who succeeded Kennedy, is carrying on his legacy in this regard.
“While I support the concept of wind power as an alternative source of energy,” he says, “the [project] will jeopardize industries that are vital to the Cape’s economy, such as tourism and fishing, and will also impact aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes in the area. I am also skeptical about the cost-savings and job-number predictions we have heard from proponents of the project.”
Democrats Congressman Bill Delahunt, State Senate President Therese Murray, State Senator Robert O’Leary, and former senator Paul Kirk have also expressed concern over the project. Those pols who hail from or represent the Cape or areas near enough to it (Delahunt, Murray, O’Leary, the late Kennedy) tend to be against it while others (Markey, Patrick) are for it, but that isn’t always the case.
At the very least, these coalitions show that Massachusetts is not as predictable a political zone as many in the national press might think. The fact that the innovative project is centered on Cape Cod likely has a lot to do with it, since the Cape is sacred ground not just to Native Americans, but to many state residents — even if they do not live there. For many, Cape Wind can conjure images of economic exploitation that are deeply unsettling. That many in this often liberal state see the project as part of an inescapable — maybe even desirable — future adds to the complication of it all.
Clean, green, or in between?
If it seems strange that Republicans and Democrats are so mixed up over the issue of Cape Wind, consider that environmental giant Greenpeace USA has defended wind turbines — to the disappointment of numerous local groups that avow Cape Wind will disrupt marine wildlife.
In the wake of last month’s devastating BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast, none of those fighting the Nantucket Sound project dispute the necessity of clean, green energy. In fact, when Salazar announced his approval in Boston last week, he stated that, after careful consideration, he found “that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project,” and that it marked the beginning of “a new direction in our nation’s energy future.” But there are different definitions of “clean.”
The project claims it will supply up to 75 percent of the electricity needs for the Cape and the islands, and, impressively, will not produce any carbon or pollutants in doing so. However, those who oppose (and even experts who support) the project question that number.
Critics also say that the project will in fact produce pollution with the installation of miles of underwater cable and thousands of gallons of oil they say the turbines will require to function.
Perhaps the loudest voice speaking out against Cape Wind on what it claims are environmental grounds is the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a coalition of groups across the political and economic spectrum. They point to the abundance of marine and aviary life (including multiple species of dolphins, whales, and migratory birds) threatened by the project.