Appeal filed objecting to continued lease of Sound to Cape Wind


The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) are among those who have appealed a federal decision that reaffirmed Cape Wind’s long-term lease on 46 miles of Nantucket Sound, according to a press release.

The lease was reaffirmed in September despite the objections of dozens of stakeholders, including state and local leaders, the Aquinnah tribe, and the Steamship Authority, who all wrote letters to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management objecting to the ongoing lease. Cape Wind had proposed 130 wind turbines for Nantucket Sound, but the project has been stalled by legal challenges, and utilities have walked away from power purchase plans.

The Interior Department wrote that its “decision was reached after careful and thorough analysis of the sea floor and its ability to support the wind turbine generators presented.” Cape Wind proposes to use “technology that is currently available, technically feasible, and economically viable, that can interconnect with and deliver electricity to the New England Power Pool.” Without the wind energy, the region’s reliance of fossil fuel plants will grow, the decision concluded.

The notice of appeal was filed on Nov. 21 with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), according to a press release from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. The appeal will argue that Cape Wind should be required to file an entirely new environmental impact statement (EIS) that shows a “myriad of developments” since the first one was issued in 2009, as well as the setbacks the project has faced, the release states.

“We are filing an appeal because this project is not viable, is too expensive, and is opposed by residents, businesses, and municipal leaders across Massachusetts,” said Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “It is clear that Cape Wind has no intention of withdrawing from its efforts to build in our waters. Until they no longer hold a lease to the seabed, we have to remain vigilant and continue to fight to end it.”

The opposition comes even as several companies are competing to build wind farms approximately 15 miles off the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Several of those companies have been making the rounds to local boards of selectmen, seeking support for their projects.