Cape Codâ€™s Nantucket Sound could be the site of a groundbreaking wind farm that could provide up to 75% of Cape Cod, Marthaâ€™s Vineyard and Nantucket energy needs. But NIMBYism (not in my back yard) seems perched to win the day. Will the residents of the Cape and Islands continue to pollute themselves out of house and home just because they worry about the view?
The residents of Cape Cod and the surrounding islands are involved in a battle that seems at times to rival the great American Civil War. Pitting brother against brother, but also neighbor against neighbor, and mother in law against son in law. So what is this horrible debate that has torn a community apart. War, taxes, the new Red Sox line up, nay, all this fuss is over wind turbines.
Cape Cod is the proposed site of a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. The wind farm would provide 75% of the regions energy needs. It would be miles from the nearest shore (5 miles at its closest) and would provide clean energy to the area for the next 15-25 years at a fixed rate. So why, you might ask, are people yelling and screaming, stealing each others yard signs, and willing to spend a very large sum of there own money to stop this project. Simple, they are afraid that they will be able to see the things from their multimillion-dollar beachfront houses. They are worried about the view, well here is a wake up call, its not about the view its about the vision.
The Cape and Islands area is in desperate need of clean energy. By 2007 the area will not have enough energy to support the estimated need. They are home to the worst air quality in Massachusetts. They have 50% worse air than downtown Boston. The Canal Power Plant (a oil fired plant on Cape Cod) burns more than 60,000 gallons of oil AN HOUR to produce enough electricity for the area. Just two years ago a large oil tanker broke open while delivering this oil to the Canal plant and caused one of the worst ecological disasters the area has ever seen. And yes, you guessed it most of this oil is from overseas. The two other power plants in the area are a coal fired plant and a nuclear plant. Both of which produce large amounts of pollution or toxic sludge. So why would the residents of this area want to continue to suffer under these horrible conditions?
Because many of them they are not even year round residents. Many of the people fighting this wind farm only live on the Cape during the summer and spend the rest of the year some place else. They donâ€™t suffer the increased asthma that many year round residents do, or have to see there winter skies polluted with emissions from the Canal Power Plant. But they ARE worried that the property value on there beach front houses would go down if people could see wind turbines in the sound. Even though European property values near wind farms actually go up because of the increased tourism dollars that flood into the area. People will pay TO SEE wind turbines.
What the beachfront residents might not consider is that if â€œbusiness as usualâ€ continues the sea levels are going to rise. Underwater housing really hasnâ€™t caught on yet. Besides helping to slow global warming, the cape wind farm would also; reduce 1323 tons of nitrogen oxides, 4480 tons of sulfur dioxide and a whopping 1,062,554 TONS of carbon dioxide (a key green house gas). It would also lessen our reliance on oil from the Middle East and other countries with horrible human rights records.
The wind farm has been shown to be safe enough to local wildlife, is not in major shipping lanes, and sits in a very shallow area so it would be protected from impact from large crafts blown off course. Modern wind turbines can handle inclement weather conditions by â€œturning themselves offâ€. And the view? It is predicted that on a clear day (when the smog from Boston and New York city and the Mid West are not blowing in) that the turbines will be roughly as tall as your thumbnail on the horizon and as thick as a a toothpick.
The power cable for the wind farm was recently approved and the Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement was overwhelmingly positive. So why isnâ€™t this project all ahead go? Because of one simple problem, rich people donâ€™t want to have to see them. They would rather let the oceans rise till their houses are underwater or washed away. They would rather let more children die early from asthma and other repertory illness. They would rather continue to support foreign dictators and terrorist nations. They would rather remove more mountaintops to get coal. They would rather continue to pay ever-higher prices for energy. They would rather continue to take the risk of more oil spills.
The choice is clear; the residents of the Cape and Islands should make an investment in the future and support the cape wind project. Donâ€™t let Not In My Back Yard destroy one of our best chances at saving the Cape and Islands area from further ecological destruction.