I “met” Donna through her online efforts to oppose the Cape Wind farm. You can see some of her efforts on The Sietch, in the comment section of some of my entries about Cape wind. You may think it odd that I would want to give voice to a view I do not agree with, I however feel that in any rational discourse both sides must present their arguments, and then, using logic, reason, and the fact you can decide which side has the best plan. In that vein I present this interview unedited, unchanged, and as it was written. You can read my views on the potential Cape Wind project here, and now you can read the views of at least one opponent below. What do you think? Does the project have merit, or is it all a big sham? Leave a comment and let us know.
1. The Naib: Could you tell Sietch readers about yourself? Your background, where you live what you do for a living etc.
Donna Tracy: I am a professional photographer, naturalist and wildlife advocate living on Cape Cod. I have three grown children and five grand babes with a sixth on the way. They are the loves of my life.
2. The Naib: Do you have a background in the environmental movement? If so could you tell us a bit about it?
Donna Tracy: I have been working in the environmental field for over twenty five years with a focus on wildlife protection and advocacy. In 1982, my husband, Glen, and I founded Wildcare Inc dedicated to the care and protection of wildlife. In 1989 we founded the Hudson Valley Raptor Center, a 91 acre hospital, sanctuary, education, environmental advocacy and research center devoted to birds of prey. Over the years our advocacy work has set up a state-wide system of care for injured wildlife in New York, helped to ban two pesticides, Fenthion and Chlordane from the environment and called attention to others like Diazinon (which is highly controlled for turf grass application on golf courses etc.(every grain used must be recorded from the amount applied to how it is watered in) yet it is on the shelves for public use with no control of its use and application whatsoever. This deadly pesticide was responsible for the near single-handed (unintended) extermination of a major percentage of the Brant population in New York State on just one site alone).
3. TN: You are well known in the Cape Cod community as a staunch opponent of Cape Wind. Can you tell us how you came to be against the project, and why you feel it is not a good project for the Cape Cod community?
DT: When I moved here nearly three years ago from the Hudson Valley Region of New York, I became aware of the project through an internet site where I wrote a blog called Magic Eye, devoted to nature. I became involved over the bird mortality issue which was being dismissed as insignificant and unimportant. So, I began looking into it and educating myself about the issues. In doing so I discovered many false claims about the benefit of this project that I felt needed to be openly discussed. These included:
- Environmental impacts to avian and marine species
- Economic impacts to tourism and tourist related spending. The decline to associated tourism industry jobs, property values and the negative impact on fisheries
- Human safety impacts to navigation, aviation, military defense, search and rescue efforts to boaters, 3 million passengers on ferries who cross the Sound and 400,000 flights per year over the Nantucket Soundâ€™s airspace.
- Aesthetic impacts and impacts on historic properties.
4. TN: I have noticed that you seem to be part of a very well organized online effort to get the word out about cape wind and its faults. It this true? Are you in fact a member of some sort of organization opposing cape wind, or are you just a single citizen working against this project?
DT: I am a single citizen working against this project and am not a member of any kind of well organized effort opposing Cape Wind. But through net-working with like minds we share information and attempt to get the word out there through writing and the internet.
5. TN: It can be a lot of work to keep up the kind of media campaign you are a part of. Do you get financial backing from anyone or any group to compensate your time?
DT: I am a free-lance photographer which is how I compensated my time. And, fortunately since I no longer work in the darkroom (to produce my images) but at a computer, I am able to keep my finger on the issues, write about them and print my photographs at the same time. But, I donâ€™t see being paid for good work as a bad thing. And, in fact, it is probably necessary in order to continue. Thank you for the suggestion. J
6. TN: The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is also a staunch opponents of Cape Wind, are you in any way affiliated with them (personally, financially, etc)? What do you think of the Alliance?
DT: I am not a supporting member of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound but I do morally support their efforts to stop the Cape Wind project. I have volunteered my help and time on many occasions. They are a great group of dedicated people from all walks of life. I admire their tenacity, hard work, knowledge and experience.
7. TN: Some claim that Cape Wind is the first step in the battle against global warming, what are your views on global warming, and how do you feel Cape Wind would fit into that debate?
DT: We need a national policy and an appropriate mix of solutions to effectively address climate change. If off-shore wind is to be a part of the solution it must not become a part of the problem, as in environmental damage. Deep water wind technology is on line and already producing electricity in Scotland and may be the answer to the Cape Wind controversy by providing a site with fewer negative impacts on public safety, our communities, endangered birds and their habitats, marine resources, tourism, the economy of the Cape and the Islands, scenic beauty etc.
8. TN: One criticism of anti-Cape Wind people is that they offer few solutions to the regions growing energy crunch problem. What solutions would you find acceptable for continuing to supply the New England region with power (assuming conservation was not enough to meet growing demand)?
DT: I believe conservation is the first defense and only real immediate solution to growing demand for more and more electricity. It is unconscionable, to me, that conservation isnâ€™t being promoted or even mandated. It makes no sense not to begin with the things every single American citizen can easily do to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, curb pollution and lessen our wasteful use of electricity and natural resources.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound has offered solutions and proposes we look into deep water wind projects and find alternative sites to the one proposed by Cape Wind which would cause less environmental degradation and safety hazards to people and wildlife of Cape Cod.
The supply and demand equation has changed drastically since Cape Wind was first proposed. The forward capacity market which provides incentives for new capacity as well as demand reduction programs has brought many new project proposals forth. Cape Wind is now just one of many â€“ both traditional and renewable projects being proposed. In fact, Cape Windâ€™s developer EMI (of which Jim Gordon is president of both) has a proposal for a diesel power plant to be built in Chelsea, MA to provide capacity in times of peak need. This proposal clearly shows that EMI/Cape Wind is not focused on the environment but rather on its own profitability. If Jim Gordon was truly oriented toward providing environmental benefits, he could have proposed demand reduction to reduce the need to build new plants, especially polluting diesel plants.
9. TN: The group Clean Power Now is a strong supporter of the Cape Wind project. How do you feel they have run their campaign?
DT: I think Clean Power Now is simply a not for profit arm of the Cape Wind project. They offer no other solutions other than Cape Wind. Their former head, Matt Palmer worked for Jim Gordon for years before he was installed as head of Clean Power Now. After he left he went on to head up the Chelsea Diesel Power Plant proposal, which I can only call, Dirty Power Now. Funny thing how he dramatically spoke of asthma rates in children but has gone on to head up a project that will only increase those hospitalized asthma rates in the children he professed to care so much about.
10. TN: What would you do if the Cape Wind project was built?
DT: Cape Wind needs each of approximately 20 permits to be built, at this point, they have only one and a certificate of adequate performance (not a permit) from the Stare; they are a long way from ever being built. Also, I envision a long series of court battles on many fronts. So, the idea that Cape Wind will be built is not something I even consider at the moment.
TN: Please tell me anything else that you feel was not covered above, and you think would be interesting to my audience.
DT: Studies on an offshore project in Long Island, NY shows that wholesale costs to consumers would increase substantially. Offshore wind is expensive to generate because of the huge capital costs that need to be financed (about $1 billion for Cape Wind). We need to look closely at the economic impacts and impacts on rates for these types of projects in addition to the significant subsidies these projects would receive, in fact, Cape wind would receive well over $1 billion in subsidies and tax credits over the life of the project were it to be built. The question this raises is â€“ is this the best use of taxpayer money to achieve our objectives for clean energy â€“ or are there better, more cost effective ways with fewer downsides and risk like energy efficiency programs and conservation?
TN: Do you have a website, phone number, email that you would like to have put at the end of the post to let people know how to contact you? (Feel free to plug any new events or promotions)
Thanks you for your time.
Thank you too, Shane.