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Cape Wind Clears Hurdle:

Yesterday the Minerals Management Service (MMS) released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind power development in Massachusetts, concluding that the project will have no significant negative environmental consequences. Release of the final EIS clears the way for the MMS to lease a portion of Nantucket Sound to Cape Wind, but it hardly makes the project a done deal. Cape Wind will still need to obtain additional permits and clear additional reviews from the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Coast Guard. Project opponents also promised litigation and other efforts to prevent the erection of wind turbines in the Sound. Senator Kennedy, for one, voiced his continued opposition and predicted any lease to Cape Wind would be overturned.

The Cape Wind experience illustrates how existing regulatory regimes are not particularly welcoming to alternative energy development. MMS offshore lease regulations, for instance, were designed for offshore oil and gas development, not windfarms. Cape Wind has had to face numerous regulatory reviews and overlapping requirements at various levels of government. If wind power and other alternative energy sources are to ever make a significant and cost-justified contribution to the nation's energy supply, the regulatory thicket will need to be cleared. The Bush Administration showed little interest in such an undertaking, despite its stated commitment to less onerous regulation and technological innovation. Perhaps the Obama Administration will recognize the need for innovation-enhancing regulatory reforms.

Hoosier:
Stoopid Hoosier Trick # 6:

I first read the headline as a reference to a racehorse named "Cape Wind."

Duh.
1.17.2009 11:37am
rjh:
A large part of the delay is that Cape Wind is proposed for the back yard of some very rich and powerful people. Senator Kennedy is just one of those struggling to kill it. So it acts as a probe to reveal every possible regulatory barrier.

Other wind sites, such as the local Hull site, get permitted much more easily. But Hull put their wind mill on top of the town dump.
1.17.2009 12:55pm
wfjag:
The Cape Wind experience illustrates how existing regulatory regimes are not particularly welcoming to alternative energy development. are reflections of current politcal views show that NIMBY works for the rich famous and politically connected.
1.17.2009 12:57pm
Orson Buggeigh:
It is time for the Democratic Party and the environmental community to seriously support the Cape Wind Project, and stop letting a select few like Senator Kennedy keep killing it. The environmental community keeps calling for renewable energy to replace coal and other fossil fuels. Well, ladies and gents, here is one way to move that agenda forward. If the senior senator from Massachusetts doesn't like seeing the wind farm from his windows, I have a suggestion for him: hire a photographer to make some big photo murals to install in your windows.
1.17.2009 1:02pm
Fub:
Orson Buggeigh wrote at 1.17.2009 1:02pm:
If the senior senator from Massachusetts doesn't like seeing the wind farm from his windows, I have a suggestion for him: hire a photographer to make some big photo murals to install in your windows.
Or just install some slow glass.
1.17.2009 1:34pm
duracomm (mail):
Given the fact that most wind projects would not exist without government mandates and massive subsidies I can't get too concerned about the fact that they have to go through the same environmental review every other energy project does.

The fact that when completed they generate only a trivial amount of electricity reduces my lack of concern even further.
1.17.2009 2:28pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):

Perhaps the Obama Administration will recognize the need innovation-enhancing regulatory reforms.

Ha, ha. You had me there for a moment.
1.17.2009 2:45pm
John A (mail):
Other than the "renewable source" argument [such as it is - anyone want to buy a Franklin stove, cheap, now that they are being outlawed?], how are wind (or tide, or geothermal) projects more troubled by regulation than, say, nuclear power?

Mind you, I think some obstacles need to be removed - like old laws that required automobiles to be preceded by a person on foot with a red lantern.
1.17.2009 3:40pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

Mind you, I think some obstacles need to be removed - like old laws that required automobiles to be preceded by a person on foot with a red lantern.

There's a new wind farm being constructed in western Iowa along I80. Of course, due to FAA regulation each one is topped with a blinking red light. (you can consider "blinking" an epithet if you wish) I don't know if it's more irritating that they are there, or that the hundred or so lights are blinking in unison.
1.17.2009 5:07pm
Gringo (mail):
1.17.2009 5:45pm
John Moore (www):
The project is just running into the same sort of nonsense that stops so many worthwhile endeavors.

The legal red tape created by environmental laws and lawsuits by NIMBY's will make any "infrastructure stimulus" program fail. By the time anything is approved, the need for the stimulus will be gone.

I am just waiting for a Native American tribe to find religious grounds for stopping this project. They do that here in Arizona all the time.

In Lawrence, KS, they killed an important road project because it went too close to a "prayer circle." Never you mind that this prayer circle was put their by students at Haskell Indian Institute, and was not on Native American land.

One way or another, modern forces will put sand in the gears of any sort of large scale project - unless it is something green an useless, like the Phoenix Light Rail system.
1.18.2009 12:27am
John Moore (www):
their = there

but who has time to proofread, and the spelling checker liked it just fine :-(
1.18.2009 12:28am
wb (mail):
"existing regulatory regimes are not particularly welcoming to alternative energy development."

Prof. Adler, I'd be interested to see your take on the legal and regulatory difficulties to be overcome for any form of carbon sequestration to be possible - that is assuming that some approaches can be proved to be feasible and economical.
1.18.2009 12:30am
Sk (mail):
Misleading.

The existing regulatory regime isn't bad: Environmental Impact Statements are designed to reveal and identify the environmental impact of federal, or federally regulated, projects.

The problem is that environmental (which includes hard, chemical and physical, as well as soft, 'cultural,' 'viewshed', and social) impacts are not well understood. Environmental science is not physics.

Which means that, in the absence of hard science, judgement calls intrude (inevitably). And where there is judgement, there is ambiguity-and thus, politics.

The existing regulatory regime is not especially hostile to alternative energy. It is simply potentially hostile to any project that is politically controversial.

Thus, Jonathan may really be arguing that all projects are burdened by regulation. Or, he may be arguing that alternative energy projects, because they are special, should get a special regulatory pass to avoid the normal regulatory burden (though he should make an argument for this). Its not clear which he believes.

sk
1.18.2009 8:52am
jj08 (mail):
The Cape Wind experience illustrates how existing regulatory regimes are not particularly welcoming to alternative energy development.

Nonsense. The Cape Wind project shows how one greedy and crooked politician (Senator Kennedy) can hold an important energy producing project hostage. The regulatory agencies - which are hip-deep in environmentalist sociopaths - are merely a reflection of a larger political problem.

No amount of regulation "reform" will cure arrogance and stupidity.
1.18.2009 9:48am
devil's advocate (mail):

Given the fact that most wind projects would not exist without government mandates and massive subsidies I can't get too concerned about the fact that they have to go through the same environmental review every other energy project does.


If the propensity of the dems to insulate 'stimulus' projects from NEPA is any indication, what you'll get is environmental exemptions for 'renewable' energy -- more subsidy.


The project is just running into the same sort of nonsense that stops so many worthwhile endeavors


I haven't seen any proof whatsoever that Cape Wind is a worthwhile endeavor except for exposing NIMBY hypocrites for what they are.

Speaking of which, that appelation goes both ways with Dick Cheney reportedly having been behind the addition of the withdrawal of a significant chunk of Wyoming from Oil and Gas development to a bloated omnibus of horrible ideas that also included the same southcoast Massachusetts cabal trying to put a dagger through the heart of a LNG terminal near the Massachusetts/RI border by declaring an industrial riverway to be "wild and scenic". Now we're not talking just hypocrisy, we're talking inanity (add the 's' if you prefer).

Brian
1.18.2009 10:23am
lonetown (mail):
Actually there are plenty of regulations that work against alternative energy systems. Local regulations limiting structure height, or the felling of trees have been used to stop wind projects.

Small dams are essentially no longer allowed. Connecticut used to have thousands that produced power.

Just to name a couple I've witnessed myself.
1.18.2009 10:57am
Fred Z (mail):
The real point is: When the government, regulates, promotes or restricts some operation it will screw up. It will do so because the laws dealing with the operation will always leave a politician's or a bureaucrat's finger in the pie. Why do we have endless, commissions, studies, management groups, committees, inspectors.

Cui Bono? And it ain't you, sucker.

We watched the old Soviet Union get strangled by its own bureaucrats and petty politicians and learned nothing.
1.18.2009 11:23am
Bodster:
I am a libertarian and I am opposed to Cape Wind. Everyboding, including Instapundit, loves to hammer this issue because they think it reveals the hypocrisy of the rich Democrats like the Kennedy's. Maybe so, but that's not the point.

The real problem is that are no private property rights for Nantucket Sound. If you would privatize Nantucket Sound pleasure boaters or alternative energy producers could purchase it -- based on their willingness and ability to pay. How can you efficiently allocate resources absent private propery rights? The government is a lousy steward of public land and waterways.

As Prof Block would say we need the equivalent of barbered wire to "fence in" bodies of water:

"Suppose, that is, that property rights in bodies of water were recognized by law. It takes no great
leap of imagination to suppose that scientists and engineers would soon be able to offer new
technology which could distinguish between 'mine and thine.'"

Disclaimer: I do own waterfront property on the Cape, and I don't like people cavalierly dismissing my arguments as NIMBY or hypocrisy. Is this a class issue? Why such hostility to the rich? Why the animosity to people who have succeeded in our capitalist economy?? I would expect this type of argument from the left, not the right...
1.18.2009 12:40pm
lonetown (mail):
If Nantucket Sound were private property and the State decided, for the good of the Republic, that due to the nature of the area its ideal for wind farms, they would take the property under eminent domain, no?

Most public works projects work this way. Look at NYC water supply, TVA, Grand Cooley Dam, Military bases, etc. etc.

It should be easier in areas that are already public property. It simply requires the waiving of the adversarial system of land management we have come to love.
1.18.2009 12:52pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
So what? This is just another step in the dance. Next the NIMBYs will file a suit against the permit in Federal Court alleging that the EIS did not comply with law and that MMS violated the law by issuing the permit. The law suit will take five to ten years with appeals.

And time will pass.

And grass will grow from your cheeks Akiba, and still the wind farm will not have been built.

You can't be too thin, to rich, or too cynical.
1.18.2009 7:08pm
Frater Plotter:
I lived on Cape Cod for five years. Folks who haven't been in the area, or aren't familiar with local issues, probably miss out on some facts that are pertinent to Cape Wind.

One of these facts is that Cape Cod has some of the most expensive electricity in the continental US. There is a single oil-burning plant in Sandwich that powers the local grid. That plant emits noisy, nasty, crunchy volts that love to fry sensitive equipment. It has brownouts in the summer and outages in the winter.

That oil-burning plant also gives the area some of the worst air pollution in the Northeast, with levels of ozone that have been rated by the American Lung Association as actively harmful to health. The lack of reliable electricity also means that many houses depend on wood-burning stoves for winter heat, which also contribute to pollution.

Cape Cod desperately needs additional, independent power generating capacity. It also desperately needs power that is less hazardous to the residents' health. Wind power promises both of these.

Another fact is not technical but political. The population of Cape Cod is divided between residents, who live there year-round, and "summer people" who don't. Summer people bring a lot of money to the Cape -- but unlike tourists in most tourist economies, many summer people also have their legal residence on-Cape and can vote there, even though they spend most of the year in Boston or elsewhere.

Summer people, by and large, want to keep Cape Cod rustic, which is to say, primitive. This is directly contrary to the interests of full-time residents, who want things like reliable electricity and breathable air.
1.18.2009 7:45pm
Frater Plotter:
Just to add one more point:

I'd love to see a nuclear power plant on Cape Cod. Or anything else that would offer an independent and non-polluting source of electricity. And so would a lot of the Cape's scientific community. A nuke plant would certainly be more reliable than wind power, too.

But a nuke plant is unlikely to happen for a number of reasons, chiefly that the U.S. isn't building nuke plants at all.
1.18.2009 7:57pm

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