Editorials and Opinions

Controversy in the Air

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By Ally Bernstein

An epic battle is taking place on Nantucket Sound. Angry politicians masquerading under the title “Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound” have been fighting Cape Wind, an extremely well-financed wind power group.

Cape Wind has proposed an offshore wind farm, an innovation for the United States.

Yet the Alliance claims that industrial wind turbines would desecrate the pristine beauty of the Sound.

Land-based wind projects are often opposed, as shadow flicker–the shadows cast by the rotating blades at sunrise and sunset–and noise can pose issues for residents living nearby.

Offshore wind, however, minimizes the problem by placing the turbines in the ocean, far away from homes. Plans to place 130 power-generating turbines on Horseshoe Shoal have been underway for years.

Yet a myriad of setbacks have plagued the project from the beginning.

Many local politicians, notably former Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Edward Kennedy, and Representative William Delahunt, felt that the faint, tiny outline of wind turbines would mar the flawless view of the sunset on their oceanfront property.

Subsequently, the property values of their second or third homes would fall. This is the foundation that the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound was built on.

And yet, it must be admitted that the Cape Wind Associates are not completely wrong, either.

They are simply a company, aiming for a profit and have staked a claim on the Sound as their number one building site. Although they undoubtedly aim to better the world through wind power, the Cape Wind

Associates are looking out for themselves, first and foremost.

Before a side can be taken in this argument, it is important to understand the necessity of wind power. Fossil fuels not only release carbon dioxide when burned.

They also release harmful nitrous oxides, which cause smog and thousands of asthma attacks, and sulfur dioxide, the primary cause of acid rain.

No new energy technology is completely without fault, yet many are providing new options for consumers. Wind power is a relatively safe, pollutant-free alternative that can be considered a plausible possibility for large-scale implementation in the modern era.

That said, we must realize that both sides of the Cape Wind debate have made a grave mistake. Both the Cape Wind Associates and the Alliance were quick to demonize their opponent and oversimplify the argument.

It is not black and white, but rather shades of gray. By ignoring truths and refusing to conduct a logical debate, both sides have ultimately harmed their own causes.

The Alliance has inflicted study after pointless study upon Cape Wind, hoping to find that the wind turbines pose some risk, whether it concerns the birds, the marine ecosystem, or tourism.

Cape Wind, on the other hand, has been quick to label all opposition to their project as a rich minority looking out for themselves while ignoring what is in the best interests of the general public.

Cape Wind has ignored the “average-joe” Cape Cod residents that feel exploited and underrepresented in the decision-making process.

So perhaps the only conclusion that can be made is that while wind turbines and an independence from foreign oil will probably be in the future for Massachusetts, Cape Wind is not necessarily the correct first step. It is not the perfect place to plant towering wind turbines, nor is it the only place.

By insisting that Cape Wind is the only correct option, supporters may be setting back wind power by exposing its weaknesses to scrupulous speculation rather than emphasizing wind’s benefits.

That does not mean it won’t be built; at the moment, Cape Wind appears to have a promising future. And for anyone who still thinks that the majestic turbines are butt ugly, no matter how far away they are, consider what they are doing for our Earth.

When you start to see wind turbines as a symbol of a clean energy future, they become a lot more beautiful.

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