Editorial : Alongshore
Two wind farm sites in Buzzards Bay are now under review. There were three, but the third, at the north side of the bay, near Fairhaven, has been dropped from the list. The two other sites include one off the shore of Dartmouth to the west and one off the north shore of Naushon Island, just west of the Weepeckets. Naushon Island, part of Gosnold, is part of Dukes County.
Buzzards Bay is 28 miles long and eight miles wide on average, a tiny sort of inland sea. You can't see the northerly shore of the bay from the north shore of Naushon, except in unusually clear conditions or from great height. Jay Cashman Inc., a construction firm that has participated in the Big Dig, in dredging New York Harbor, and in construction of the Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant in Boston Harbor, wants to build as many as 120 wind turbines in the bay, each taller than the turbines planned for Nantucket Sound. Cashman planned 30 to 40 turbines at each of the three locations on which the firm first cast its eye.
The development of the Cape Wind turbine complex at Horseshoe Shoal, eight or nine miles northeast of Edgartown (though considerably closer to Cape Poge), has occasioned passionate debate and worry among Vineyarders. Edgartown and the Martha's Vineyard Commission have moved to intervene in the decision making on Cape Wind. As Matt Pelikan reminds us, in his Wild Side column this morning, the Oceans Act, a Massachusetts law that will lead to regulatory control over state waters, will govern developments, including projects such as Mr. Cashman's for Buzzards Bay, along Vineyard shores. The Cape Wind project, by some mystery of map making, lies in federal waters, but future Buzzards Bay developments and those that may be proposed in Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds and in the waters around Nomans Land, a bit of Chilmark, will fall under the jurisdiction of the state and the derivative regulations of the Ocean Act, which will control waters from 1,500 feet to three nautical miles offshore. As Mr. Pelikan advises, we need to pay attention, and not only at the regional level, but in town governments. Every Island town, plus Gosnold, borders the state waters to be controlled under the Oceans Act. So far, Mr. Pelikan observes, the "far-reaching state regulatory process appears to be attracting only selective attention from Vineyarders, despite the fact that the rules being developed have enormous implications for the entire Island."
"Much of the state waters off the Vineyard appear likely to receive some measure of protection," Mr. Pelikan writes. "But it is possible to imagine an outcome that designates much of our inshore waters as suitable for industrial uses (in particular, the steady winds of our region represent an irresistible resource). Moderate-scale, locally owned shellfish aquaculture, or a municipal energy project sited intelligently and sized to meet Island needs, would be one thing. But a gigantic, for-profit wind farm wrapped around half of our shoreline, sending all its energy and profits to the mainland, would be something else entirely, producing local impact without local benefits."
And, perhaps with limited opportunities for guidance from Islanders. This is a Sasquatch-size regulatory sortie that bears early and vigorous intervention.