MV Gazette, on October 30th, 2009

Message for Mr. Bowles-MV Gazette Editorial

Stop the clock and restore full jurisdiction to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. This is the message that a delegation of Island selectmen representing every Island town intend to deliver to Ian Bowles, the state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

That is, when and if they can meet with him.

Mr. Bowles is the architect of the draft oceans plan which has drawn poor marks for being far more political than environmental, and indeed the comments from state bureaucrats at a meeting on the Vineyard last week did little to dispel the notion. For starters it was poor form for Mr. Bowles not to attend the meeting himself, considering the fact that the Vineyard is in the eye of the storm surrounding the draft oceans plan. What was so pressing that the secretary, who owns a home in Woods Hole, was unable to travel to the Vineyard for a two-hour meeting?

Could he be ducking the tough questions?

That certainly was the case in an interview with the Gazette at his Boston office last week, two days before the Vineyard meeting. Instead of directly answering the key questions, including how the waters off the Vineyard were singled out as the only place for the development of commercial wind farms in the draft oceans plan, and why the Martha’s Vineyard Commission has been stripped of its full power of review over such projects, Secretary Bowles filled the air with a lot of bureaucratic nonsense that translated something like this: I hear you, but I’ve got my own agenda here and nobody is going to get in my way.

The agenda is rapid development of offshore wind generation, but sadly the draft oceans plan is badly flawed. In addition to cutting the Vineyard out of any meaningful regulatory control over wind farm development in the ocean which is its backyard, the plan lacks sophisticated planning for the future. At the meeting on the Vineyard last week state officials admitted that the plan is short-term; the real future for wind generation is in deeper federal waters farther offshore, they said.

The state of Rhode Island knows this and is planning for it. So does the state of Maine, which recently landed eight million dollars in federal grant money to test and research offshore wind development.

Which comes back to the central message that the Vineyard selectmen would like to deliver to Secretary Bowles:

Stop the clock; the mandate to complete the oceans plan by the end of the year should be suspended in order to amend the Oceans Act legislation and restore full powers of review to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for wind power plants on the ocean.

The Vineyard should settle for nothing less.

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