Wind Proposal Whips Up Controversy

ByABC News
October 23, 2002, 11:51 AM

Oct. 29 -- A plan to anchor 170 towering wind turbines five miles off the coast of Cape Cod has created some unusual foes.

On one side are the Humane Society, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the International Wildlife Coalition and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., among others. On the other side are groups that might normally be considered allies, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace.

They're clashing over a power source that defenders say will offer bountiful clean energy to the region, but opponents say will blight the view off the Massachusetts cape, kill birds and harm fishing and tourism.

The $700 million wind-power project, which has won preliminary approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is now under environmental review.

"We support the development of responsible alternative energy policy," says Isaac Rosen, executive director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a recently incorporated neighborhood association set up to oppose the wind-power project. "But Cape Wind Associates' proposal goes against everything for which the character of the cape is known worldwide."

The debate is revealing how even so-called renewable energy sources are rarely innocuous.

NIMBY at Play?

Wind power the fastest-growing energy resource in the world, according to the Department of Energy does not leach pollutants or gobble up finite resources. But wind turbines dot prime landscapes, generate noise and can pose a hazard to birds and other wildlife. And in nearly every place where companies have set up or proposed wind plants, including California, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, Kansas, Maine and now Massachusetts, local groups have risen up in protest.

Deborah Donovan, head of the New England policy project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, argues wind power's ill effects don't stack up against its benefits and that people are suffering from a "not in my back yard" mentality.