America's first, and most promising, offshore wind project was finally given the go-ahead this morning by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The project includes 130 turbines over 24 square miles off historic Nantucket Sound with a public and private price tag of $1 billion. Salazar just gave this statement in the Massachusetts State House in Boston:
“After careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location. With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind-energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”
The U.S. lags far behind other countries in Western Europe and Asia on offshore wind, many of which have robust development off their coasts. But the reason Cape Wind was held for so long was the pushback from local residents that turbines would ruin the scenic landscape and from some lawmakers who thought the project was too generous to the wind industry. Earlier this month Salazar reviewed—and later rejected—a report from a historic review panel that suggested he scrap the project. But the rationale that won had to do with the momentum of the wind sector, and specifically offshore development on the Gulf and West coasts that depended on the future of this one. Impending projects now have a reason to be hopeful. And so do environmentalists.