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The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has approved a construction and operations plan (COP) submitted for the Cape Wind project, which is required before construction may begin on the generation facility planned for Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts.

The time frame reported in the COP submitted by Cape Wind Associates suggests that construction of the nation's first offshore wind farm could begin as early as this fall.

"After a thorough review of environmental impacts, we are confident that this offshore commercial wind project - the first in the nation - can move forward," says BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. "This will accelerate interest in the renewable energy sector generally and the offshore wind sector specifically, and spur innovation and investment in our nation's energy infrastructure."

The proposed action, including its size and location, remains substantially the same as analyzed in the Cape Wind final environmental impact statement (FEIS), which was published in January 2009. The Cape Wind project calls for 130 wind turbines, each with a maximum blade height of 440 feet, to be arranged in a grid pattern on the Outer Continental Shelf in Nantucket Sound, offshore Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island.

As part of its evaluation of the COP, BOEMRE conducted an environmental assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act in order to determine whether there were any significant impacts that had not been discussed in the 2009 FEIS or other EAs, and concluded that all impacts had been properly examined.

BOEMRE also issued a record of decision for the COP approval, which details the terms and conditions that Cape Wind Associates will need to follow. These terms and conditions are in addition to those established in the lease agreement.

A notice about the preparation of an EA was posted on the BOEMRE website in February, which initiated a comment period and provided an opportunity for public input. BOEMRE received and considered approximately 160 comments during the comment period.

Issues considered in the EA include additional surveys and sampling, conflicts with aviation traffic and fishing use, emergency response, migratory birds, microclimate, oil within wind turbine generators, permits issued by other federal agencies and consultations with other agencies.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior

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