MV Times, on January 14th, 2010

Islanders Meet Feds on Cape Wind

Representatives of Cape and islands towns, as well as the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, and Cape Wind met Tuesday with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in Washington, D.C.

The session was part of a series of meetings yesterday and Tuesday with stakeholders in the Cape Wind energy project planned for Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. According to Oak Bluffs town administrator Michael Dutton, who attended the meeting, Mr. Salazar made it clear that Cape Wind is a critical part of the Obama administration’s renewable energy plans. He also made it clear that he wants the last part of the permitting process to move quickly.

“I think it’s important that the Island and Oak Bluffs have a seat at the table and be supportive of the tribe’s concerns and recognize the importance of wind energy and its proper siting,” Mr. Dutton said.

The stakeholders discussed the process outlined in the National Historic Preservation Act. The site of the planned wind farm was recently declared eligible for the National Register, a designation the two tribes have worked to achieve. The tribes say that until 5,000 years ago, that area was dry land, and historically important. The National Register is thought to be the last regulatory hurdle before the federal government issues a permit for the 130-turbine wind project.

Secretary Salazar told the stakeholders that the public would have an opportunity to comment on the historical designation through February 12. He said if all parties can agree on an acceptable plan, he would draft a memorandum to spell out any conditions to be included in the federal permit. If there is no agreement by March 1, he said he would terminate the process, and make the decision himself sometime in April.

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