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January 5, 2010

Salazar intervenes as Cape Wind faces new hurdle

The Cape Wind project faces yet another hurdle. The Wampanoag tribes of Aquinnah and Mashpee have claimed that the proposed offshore wind park would disturb their spiritual sun greetings and submerged ancestral burying grounds in Nantucket Sound. Yesterday, the National Park Service declared that, because of its cultural and spiritual significance to the tribes, Nantucket Sound is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places . Listing, which puts many restraints on development, is normally reserved for structures or much smaller, more specific locations than Nantucket Sound. However, the Massachusetts Historic Preservation Commission, which nominates locations for inclusion on the register, apparently decided to stretch things, leaving the decision in the hands of the Park Service.

Both the Parks Service and the Minerals Management Service are part of the fiefdom of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who has been actively promoting MMS efforts to get offshore wind development rolling.

Yesterday, Secretary Salazar issued the following statement in response to the determination that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, noting that the finding ensures that significant archeological, historic and cultural values are considered in the review of the permit for the proposed Cape Wind project by the Minerals Management Service (MMS).

"America's vast offshore wind resources offer exciting potential for our clean energy economy and for our nation's efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Secretary Salazar. "But as we begin to develop these resources, we must ensure that we are doing so in the right way and in the right places.

"The Keeper's finding that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing in the National Register provides information that will help us to undertake final consultations and analysis of potential impacts of wind development on historic and cultural resources in Nantucket Sound.

"After several years of review, it is now time to move the Cape Wind proposal to a final decision point. That is why I am gathering the principal parties together next week to consider the findings of the Keeper and to discuss how we might find a common-sense agreement on actions that could be taken to minimize and mitigate Cape Wind's potential impacts on historic and cultural resources. I am hopeful that an agreement among the parties can be reached by March 1. If an agreement among the parties can't be reached, I will be prepared to take the steps necessary to bring the permit process to conclusion. The public, the parties, and the permit applicants deserve certainty and resolution."


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