Salazar Visits Cape Cod, Doesn't Rule on Wind Project

By Boston Herald, Boston Herald - February 3, 2010

Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar didn’t tip his hand on Cape Wind yesterday during a Bay State visit, but he pushed back the deadline to make a decision on the nation’s first offshore wind farm until April.

The cowboy hat-wearing Salazar visited Wampanoag Indian tribes on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard and boarded a U.S. Coast Guard cutter for a firsthand look as the proposed development site at Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound.

Salazar, who participated in a sunrise ceremony on Ponponesset Beach, said he needs to balance the nation’s need for renewable energy sources with the importance of preserving its history.

Regardless of his decision, Salazar said, he is “bullish” on wind power in general.

Even after more than eight years of review, Salazar said, “important questions” need to be answered about the Cape Wind project.

“I’m not prejudging where we will end up on this particular project,” he said. However, Salazar said, there is huge wind potential along the coast.

The Wampanoags, who are known as “The People of The First Light,” say Cape Wind will interfere with their ancient religious rituals, which require an unblocked view of sunrise. They also say the project would be built on what’s likely an ancestral burial ground.

“It’s important for us to respect the nation’s first Americans,” Salazar said. “Part of what I felt I had to do was come out to their place of significance and actually experience some of what they experience.”

Last month, the National Park Service agreed with a tribal claim that Nantucket Sound was eligible for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Jan. 4 decision brought the prospect of more delay, so Salazar stepped in.

Cape Wind developers have proposed erecting 130 turbines, each more than 400 feet tall, over 25 square miles of the sound, several miles from the shore. Supporters say the multibillion-dollar project will provide cheaper energy, reduce pollution and create green jobs.

But opponents say the project is a threat to aviation, bird life and commercial fishing interests.

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