It's windy enough on Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound — the waters between Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard — that it makes the Sound an ideal idea place for windmills that generate electricity.
Wind farms are popular in Europe and California, and environmentalists like them because they're a relatively clean way to produce electricity. It's a reason Jim Gordon proposes to install 130 wind turbines 6 ½ miles off the coast of Cape Cod.
But there's a problem.
Although the Natural Resources Defense Council, and its attorney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., support wind power (Kennedy says he's "strongly in favor of wind-energy production at sea,") Kennedy doesn't want a wind farm on Nantucket Sound, where his family might see it from their elegant compound in Hyannis Port.
Veteran newsman Walter Cronkite doesn't want Gordon's wind farm here either. Cronkite likes to sail on Nantucket Sound. He did a commercial for a group that's fighting the wind farm. In it, he says, "Our natural treasures should be off limits to industrialization and Nantucket Sound is one of those treasures."
His ad was paid for by the Alliance to Protect the Sound, which also supports wind power, but not on Nantucket Sound
The group's president, Isaac Rosen, complains that the developers will "make a fortune," and says, "I think building turbines, building machinery in an area where people go to get away from industry, to get away from machinery is wrong."
Is a wind farm is going to wreck that?
"I think building turbines, building machinery in an area where people go to get away from industry, to get away from machinery is wrong," Rosen said.
Gordon disagrees. He says his opponents "just don't want to live with a half-inch view off the horizon of wind turbines."
Rosen says Gordon and the developers are "trying to say, again, that it's just a bunch of rich people who are concerned with their views."
Don't they have a point?
Rosen said, "I think, you know, rich people and poor people have a right to our public resources."
At the marina, some people agreed, a wind farm would mar their public resources.
"I don't like it because I think it just ruins the natural beauty of the water," said one yacht owner.
Really? The "natural beauty" includes yachts like his, ferries, jet skis, all kinds of noisy boats. But a wind farm would ruin it?
Not in My Backyard Syndrome?
"That's the 'Not in My Backyard' syndrome again," one man told us.
Plenty of people like the idea of windmills. "Actually they look kind of cool!" one man said.
I agree. They look almost like sculpture. In Denmark they advertise them as a tourist attraction. But the opponents say windmills would do all kinds of terrible things.
Cronkite says in his commercial against the wind farm, "These massive wind turbines could disrupt the natural habitat for wildlife in the Sound and endanger boats."
Endanger boats? Makes me wonder how they miss ramming each other now. The windmills would hardly be a blockade. They'll be six to nine football fields apart from each other.
As ferry boat captain Richard Elrick puts it, "The turbines are gonna be placed so far apart that if any boater who's out there can't safely navigate around them, he ought not be out there sailing."
Walter Cronkite wouldn't do a TV interview, but on the phone told me, "Why shouldn't I be concerned? Who else will be concerned about my backyard?"
Robert Kennedy Jr. wouldn't do an interview either.
Isn't it hypocritical for Kennedy to preach conservation, and then object to an environmentally conscientious wind farm off his house?
Rosen said he doesn't see any hypocrisy. "I think it's perfectly consistent with mainstream environmentalism to say that our public resources are not up for grabs."
He said his group supported wind turbines on land.
So would Rosen's group support wind farms next to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port?
"No, I guess what we're saying is that certain areas will be off limits to development," Rosen said.
Right, especially areas where rich environmentalists like to spend the summer.
Give me a break.
For more information, visit the following Web sites:
Wind farm developer Cape Wind:
Wind farm opponent Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound: