Overwhelming support for Vineyard Wind at hearing

BOEM officials learn climate change and jobs drive local support.

30

Updated Feb. 14

A team from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) came to the Vineyard Tuesday night to gather public comment on a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Vineyard Wind’s proposed wind farm some 15 miles south of Aquinnah, and got a earful of enthusiastic support.

After a brief presentation on the EIS process, audience members in the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center took a seat facing BOEM officials Christine Davis, Bill Brown, and Brian Krevor.

Bill Lake, director of Vineyard Power, a Vineyard green energy company affiliated with Vineyard Wind, said the project would be impactful in the quest to combat climate change.

“I think my principal point is in considering the environmental impact statements of the project, it’s very important to keep them in perspective,” he said. “Any project of this size will have some local impacts. The draft impact statement identifies those impacts and the steps that are possible to minimize them. But the far greater impact of this project will be the positive contribution it will make to meeting the existential threat posed by climate change. The speed at which our climate is changing and the effects, both those we’re feeling now and those that are predicted, are just staggering. Few things could be as important as reducing carbon emissions by moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and this project will be a huge step in that direction.”

Greer Thornton, co-owner of Atria in Edgartown, said she spoke on behalf of her family in support of the Vineyard Wind project.

“As a year-round resident and business owner on Martha’s Vineyard for 20 years, I would like to express my total support for the Vineyard Wind project,” she said. “This project is so needed at this critical time, a time when we may be able to repair, may be able to repair, the severe damage we’ve made to our planet through irresponsible use and production of fossil fuels. In addition to creating much-needed year-round jobs for this Island and its residents, this project could catapult us to compete with the global initiative to be more sustainable and economically viable. If we do not do this now, we will lose on all fronts.”

Nicola Blake, an environmental scientist at the University of California, said the project was particularly right for the commonwealth. “In terms of mitigating climate change, as you know the scientific consensus is that the ocean-atmosphere-terrestrial climate system has already absorbed dangerously large amounts of extra heat, energy, and CO2, which is an acid, a weak acid, because of fossil fuel emissions such that it’s probably at a tipping point in terms of extreme weather, sea level rise, ocean health, et cetera,” she said. “So also I want to lend my voice to the fact that we cannot afford to wait longer for the transition to renewable offshore wind energy — wind energy is our best option for Massachusetts, given its abundance.”

Rob Hannemann, chairman of Chilmark’s energy and finance committees and a former Tufts engineering professor, said the project was an important step in reducing dependency on fossil fuels. “It’s very clear we will need to cut our fossil fuel usage by 50 percent by the year 2030 from where we sit today,” he said. “That is not going to happen without many projects such as the Vineyard Wind project.”

Speaking on behalf of Tisbury’s board of selectmen, selectman Melinda Loberg said the town was pleased to welcome Vineyard Wind’s yet-to-be-built operation and maintenance facility to the Packer marine terminal on Beach Road, and emphasized the “positive economic impact of jobs, of training our young people,” the facility would bring.

“We are enthusiastic. We can’t wait for this to happen,” she said of the facility and the overall wind farm project.

Loberg described Tisbury as “the gateway town to the Island,” and said it’s especially susceptible to climate change.

“We feel the effects of climate change early in our harbor,” she said. “We’re very vulnerable to storm[s] and sea level rise. As a matter of fact, I think we should all pay attention to the roadway through which all visitors who arrive to the Island on the ferry and material that comes to Packer’s wharf has to travel. This is a roadway that takes people to our hospital and to our neighboring town, and it’s already being undermined by high tides and rainstorms.”

Hunter Moorman, a West Tisbury resident and member of the Massachusetts Chapter of Elders Climate Action, said two recent news items are omens of climate change and underscore the urgency of tackling it.

“Polar bears driven south by the premature breakup of polar ice are now marauding in Russian islands in the Arctic,” he said, disrupting community life, threatening children on their way to school, and and even mauling two residents to death. This phenomenon is the result of the melting polar ice cap, which contributed to the steady rise in global sea levels and also to the diminished ability of the ice sheet to reflect the sun’s heat back into the atmosphere.”

He went on to say the world insect population is in peril, based on reports of “a more than 40 percent decline in the world insect population that ‘threatens the collapse of nature,’ and signals unmistakably the launch of the sixth great extinction.”

Moorman said Vineyard Wind could offer some regional and global relief. “Vineyard Wind addresses one of the chief causes of such calamities, global warming caused in large part by greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere,” he said. “This project, this Vineyard Wind project, will achieve over 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide reductions. That’s the equivalent of taking 325,000 cars off the road, along with sizable reductions in nitrous and sulphur dioxides.”

There were a few words of caution, however. Megan Ottens-Sargent of Aquinnah and Wes Brighton of Chilmark both warned that wind farm construction could be perilous for the critically endangered right whale.

Brighton, a commercial fisherman and board member of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust, said pile-driving for monopiles could negatively impact both right whales and recently rebounded haddock stocks. He said the project lease area is a type of haddock nursery.

“That exact area is called the Old Haddock Grounds. If you talk to old-timers, that was where a lot of great fishing occurred, and it’s a reproductive area for them.” Brighton advocated for the use of bubble shields or walls as a way to mitigate the acoustic shock generated by pile-driving.

Ottens-Sargent asked if there was a way to put the brakes on the project should some critical flaw be discovered late in the process. While BOEM officials generally kept silent during the commentary period, Krevor said BOEM has the authority to halt construction if something dire is unearthed after the EIS is finalized.

Alice Berlow expressed her support for the project, but said also, “BOEM, B-O-E-M, you guys and Vineyard Wind, we’re watching you. We want you to do this right and we will continue to watch you — hold you accountable to our communities … So I support you, but I want to say that we’re not stopping here, OK?”

Updated to correct the spelling of two names. -Ed.

 

30 COMMENTS

  1. This program is a costly boondoggle and wont do a thing for climate change. Turn your attention to China which throws out twice as much carbon as the US does and is the largest ocean polluter in the world by far. ”the world insect population is in peril”? Do you folks listen to yourselves? This is enough to make even Climate Theologians laugh.

    • Because Andrew seems not to understand the economics of having multiple sources of a given product: it drives down prices. Wind, solar, and assorted others reduce the need for fossil fuel and with very little carbon footprint. As alternate energy sources become more common and accessible, the technology will become more efficient and less costly.

      And for you fossil fuel fans, the price of oil and coal will drop; fossil-fueled motor vehicles and aircraft will cost less to operate. Of course that’s only while there are still cost-effective means to extract, after that the price will skyrocket.

      • newenglander. Multiple sources of a given product does bring prices down and that is why fragmented industries with no one controlling major share creates competition and reduction in prices in a fight for market share. This is different because wind and solar and other green products cannot sustain themselves without subsidy and have no leverage to fight for market share with price. You are free to buy a higher price product out of some altruism or desire to ”save the planet” but you wont get rid of fossil fuels which are cheaper all the time hence more people use them. Tesla is not profitable and is burning other peoples money at 8k per minute. His model is not sustainable and he will go out of business soon. Maybe this year.

        • Two problems with that:
          1) Big Oil seems to have difficulty getting by without tax credits.
          2) Are you going to argue the price for technology won’t come down? Have PC prices come down substantially while functionality has increased in the past 20 years?

          • Newenglander. Yes technology costs will come down but so will the price of products it produces. Nothing can beat fossil fuels and natural gas..we are not going to run out of them we will find more with new technology.

        • Andrew– You make it sound like fossil fuels are not subsidized.
          Yes, it’s true that the homeowner does not get subsidized for buying a gas guzzler– but the oil companies get subsidized to pour their waste products into streams and rivers .
          And by the way–
          Tesla turned a $312 million profit in quarter 3 of 2018.
          But I will give you some slack here– perhaps you are just looking at old right wing articles and you are not lying, and you are just ignorant–that’s ok.. i understand. Lying is a conscious and deliberate act after all. I know, as a good christian, you would not do that.

          • Even better, we’ll never run out of fossil fuel. Seems Earth has infinite mass. That would explain how the Sun can circle the Earth, the entire cosmos would have no choice but circle the Earth. But it wouldn’t explain how we can walk erect unless fans of alternate science are as dense as the planet.

        • Andrew– care to engage in a friendly wager ? i will give you 3 to one that tesla will still be in business jan 1 2020 –If I win, 50% to my favorite charity, 50 % to yours– you can do whatever you want if you win. easy money buddy, — e mail me —

        • @Andrew – The Earth’s crust is 8 kilometers thick under the oceans and about 32 kilometers thick under the continents. Most is rock that cannot be used as fuel, at least not without destroying the planet. What new technology do you expect from our college-educated whiz kids? The crust has limited mass, the only other energy source under our feet is geothermal.

      • new englander — at the beginning of the 20 th century, it required 1 gallon of fossil fuel to extract and “refine” 110 gallons of crude oil.
        Today at the tar sands in Canada, the ratio is one gallon used to get 3 gallons to market. That is with virtually no regard to the environment. If you factor reasonable environmental safeguards into the equation, it is already not cost effective.

    • Andrew– why do you have to blame someone else ? We have thrown our attention to China, which is still in the Paris climate accord, and committed to reducing their carbon footprint. The United States is the only developed country in the world refusing to address the climate issue.
      And yes, the world’s insect population is dropping at potentially catastrophic rates.
      Do you have information that states otherwise ? Or are insects , along with plovers, fish , birds, trees, weeds, flowers, mammals, turtles , whales ,dolphins,reptiles, and virtually every other living thing except white Americans not important in your world ?

  2. This article doesn’t touch on any of the actual immediate or medium-term impacts this project will have on our Island economy. Rather than arguing about climate change, our community needs to be aware of the very real impacts this project will have on our wildlife, our fisheries and, as a result, our local economy. The EIS states that this project will have a medium-to-high impact on commercial fishing. It will also have an impact on recreational fishing. Taking away prime fishing grounds off the coast of Chappaquiddick will result in fewer tourists. It will also jeopardize our local fishing industry, and local jobs. Commercial fisherman, charter fishing, recreational fishing – all will be impacted. This will also result in an impact on local shops, restaurants and businesses, particularly in the shoulder seasons when the fishing season is in peak form. I urge you to pay attention to the details of this project. It will have a very real, immediate and medium-term impact on our economy. It’s time to shut this project down, until we have answers or promised reparations from the developer should things go south. Don’t fall for the trap Vineyard Wind is laying by pushing the climate change argument. It is just a distraction. Climate change is real, yes. But, Vineyard Wind have every incentive to get this project built (hundreds of millions of $ on the line), including at the cost of local jobs and our local community. We aren’t far from becoming a “vacation-only” island. We need to protect our remaining local industries and jobs; commercial and recreational fishing are a huge component to that. This project must not be allowed to progress.

  3. Dondondon
    Tesla has since 2010 benefited by steady access to equity and debt markets. It’s been able to sell new stock, issue convertible debt (debt that’s turned in equity at some point), and even offer some high-yield junk bonds. Running out of cash hasn’t mattered; Wall Street has been happy to finance Tesla’s expansion.Since its IPO in 2021 it has raised 19 billion in capital and produced 9 billion in negative cash flow

    • how long did Amazon run in the red before it became one of the largest companies in the world? (currently #18 ) and produce enough wealth to make it’s ceo the richest man in the world?
      Who financed all that ? suddenly, because someone is producing something beneficial to the planet, you have a problem with wall street financing? Free market capitalism applies across the board–

      And just fyi — the current year is 2019– 2021 is still 2 years away… Or do you think Musk has a secret time machine ? You gotta be careful with that tin foil …

  4. I am amazed at the number of folks that are brainwashed about this project. It is only to make some people alot of money. It will destroy so much ! It will not create any jobs on the Vineyard. Packer Marine is way to small an area for any of this. New Bedford is where the staging will be. Think of all the wires running between each rig ! These create an electrical field that affect all sea life. And not much has been said about the whales , or birds , what about the radar anomalies ? There is so much wrong with this project that there isn’t room to print the problems that will arise. Even the Europeans tell us not to do it.

    • Of the world’s top 10 wind farms, 2 are not in the US: London Array Offshore Wind Farm UK and Fantanele-Cogealac Wind Farm in Romania. The US happens to have ideal geography for wind farms. As for undersea cable, already present and perhaps too attractive to marine life.

      But what fossil fuels are known to do is pollute land, air, and water to where none are healthy environments for life.