- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cape Wind and NIMBY groups

The recent column by Charles Vinick, president of the not-in-my-back-yard group formed to block the Cape Wind project, unfortunately resorts to factual distortions and misinformation (“Risky renewable business,” Op-Ed, Tuesday).

After five years of regulatory review and public debate, Cape Wind enjoys overwhelming public support. Independent polling shows that more than 80 percent of Massachusetts residents, including a majority of those on Cape Cod, support the project.

Indeed, in the recent contested primary for the Massachusetts governorship, 74 percent of cape and islands voters favored the candidates who support Cape Wind. The fact is that a well-informed public recognizes that the benefits of the project (i.e., energy independence, environmental improvement, economic development and lower electric costs) far outweigh the specious arguments of Mr. Vinick’s group, Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

Mr. Vinick asserts that the project would be within a “state-protected marine sanctuary,” but such is plainly not the case. The wind farm would be located five miles offshore, entirely in federal waters.

Massachusetts officials have publicly disclaimed any marine-sanctuary jurisdiction over the area and, further, have stated that they “decline to seek to expand our current jurisdiction” in way that could affect Cape Wind.

The suggestion that the project will interfere with defense radar is equally unfounded. Though the Department of Defense has indicated that wind turbines could, in certain circumstances, have the potential to interfere with defense radar, it made no finding that such would be the case with Cape Wind. Also, additional studies are still under way, but the Air Force in 2004 issued a determination that Cape Wind “poses no threat to the operation” of Cape Cod’s defense radar installation.

The reference to adverse navigational impacts is similarly flawed. Congress has provided for the Coast Guard to assess potential navigational risks, but to date, the Coast Guard has made no finding of negative impact. Further, the draft environmental impact statement previously issued by the Army Corps of Engineers found that “the risk of a vessel colliding with a [wind turbine] is low” and that the project would provide “additional aids to navigation … that can be used by mariners in the area.”

The record also refutes Mr. Vinick’s suggestion that there would be a material threat to civil aviation. In fact, the New England Regional Office of the Federal Aviation Administration has reviewed the matter and in 2004 issued a Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation. Further, when project opponents challenged that result, the FAA in 2007 affirmed the “no hazard” determination.

Mr. Vinick’s objection that the project might qualify for governmental incentives (which he overstates wildly) is also flawed. The project would qualify for federal production tax credits only if and to the extent that Congress decides that an extension of current provisions is in the public interest. And, by increasing the supply of renewable energy, Cape Wind would reduce the cost of compliance with the Massachusetts renewable-energy mandate. In any event, it makes no sense to establish financial incentives to attract private investment, but then penalize the business ventures that respond.

Perhaps most important, Mr. Vinick neglected to mention that the Massachusetts Energy Facility Sitting Board, after an exhaustive adjudicatory proceeding, rejected objections raised by Mr. Vinick’s group and approved Cape Wind’s petition. On behalf of the Commonwealth, the board found that Cape Wind is needed to meet regional power demands, that “the air quality benefits of the wind farm are significant” and that the project would, in fact, lower the region’s electricity costs by providing “average annual savings of $25 million for New England customers.”

The Department of Energy has similarly concluded that “[p]rojects like Cape Wind are responsive to the Administration’s policy to increase renewable energy development on public lands and to reduce air emissions in collaboration with the public sector.”

Cape Wind has undergone five years of regulatory review with extremely favorable results and has prevailed in four federal court appeals brought by NIMBY groups. In light of the nation’s pressing energy and environmental needs, the regulatory agencies should resist attempts to further delay the process and should complete their review in an expedited manner.

As a final note, the public should realize that Mr. Vinick’s group is chaired by coal magnate Bill Koch, who owns a waterfront estate in the area. Mr. Koch’s publicly reported position statement on Cape Wind sums up the political situation perfectly: “I wish I’d thought of this! But as a businessman, I said I wouldn’t have put it my back yard — I would have put it in someone else’s back yard.”

DENNIS J. DUFFY

Vice president

Cape Wind Associates

Boston

Reform foreign aid

I was pleased to read Helle Dale’s Wednesday Op-Ed column, “America’s image,” about the Terror Free Tomorrow poll, which shows how effective American foreign assistance can improve perceptions of the United States beyond the short term and also is desired by countries such as Bangladesh.

A recent Brookings-Center for Strategic and International Studies task force studied U.S. foreign assistance strategies and structures for more than a year and came to the conclusion that the bang for our current foreign aid buck could be greatly strengthened by streamlining our foreign aid organizations and priorities to focus more tightly on strategic priorities.

Instead of the 50 separate offices that manage U.S. aid programs, we could have one agency. Instead of the 50-odd objectives these offices pursue, we could have five strategic aid priorities.

These recommendations and others by the task force would help ensure that the true American spirit of generosity is conveyed while also making this country more secure. Together, the Terror Free Tomorrow poll and our research show that the mandate is clear for foreign-aid reform. I hope Congress and the administration see it as well.

LAEL BRAINARD

Vice president and director

Brookings Institution

Global Economy and

Development Program

Washington

Deadly legacies

Cluster munitions have been killing and injuring civilians in at least 23 countries or disputed territories for more than 40 years. Their use in Lebanon is simply the latest example of what happens when these weapons are used — widespread human suffering and post-conflict hardship. In this regard, Gerald M. Steinberg’s portrayal of international criticism of the use of cluster munitions during the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah misses the point, (“Human-rights falsehood,” Op-Ed, Monday). All the more so for Human Rights Watch’s similar criticism of Hezbollah for using cluster munitions during the conflict.

Long-standing public opprobrium toward users of cluster munitions certainly has not been limited to Israel. On the contrary, this campaign is against a weapon that consistently has killed indiscriminately wherever it has been used and whose purported military utility has never been shown to outweigh its humanitarian impact.

In Kosovo, 40 percent of cluster bombs dropped by the United Kingdom missed their targets. Mr. Steinberg himself notes that the weapon is used when a target’s “precise location is unknown,” exposing the weapon’s indiscriminate nature. Military figures have spoken out against these weapons, claiming they are ineffective and leave a deadly legacy that undermines military campaigns.

The key fact missing from Mr. Steinberg’s analysis of the campaign against cluster munitions, though, is that cluster munitions continue to kill civilians on a regular basis in post-conflict societies. In Laos, an average of 150 casualties have been recorded every year since 1973. In Lebanon, an average of three civilians are being killed and injured every day.

THOMAS NASH

Coordinator

Cluster Munition Coalition

London


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