The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has recommended that Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) not approve the proposed Cape Wind project.
The MMS, the federal agency that reviews alternative energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf, is reviewing a permit application from Cape Wind Associates LLC to construct a wind project on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. As part of the review process, MMS must comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and its implementing regulations, Protection of Historic Properties.
‘Though we disagree with the comment of the Advisory Council, we are pleased that Secretary Salazar now has a complete record in front of him to make the final decision,’ says Mark Rodgers, communications director for Cape Wind. ‘It's also important to remember that the council's comments regarding historic preservation address only one of the many important concerns that Secretary Salazar will evaluate and balance in the days to come.’
After concluding that further consultation would not result in agreement, on March 1, Salazar requested formal comments from the ACHP to conclude the Section 106 review.
ACHP's findings include the following:
– Adverse effects on historic properties will be direct and indirect, cannot be avoided and cannot be satisfactorily mitigated;
– MMS has stewardship responsibilities for historic properties on the OCS;
– Section 106 was initiated late in the planning process;
– Tribal consultation under Section 106 as conducted by the Corps and by MMS was tentative, inconsistent and late; and
– The marine archaeological survey work to determine the potential for the presence of intact archaeological sites is limited, and the feasibility of any post-review discovery protocols is uncertain.
Salazar must now take into account the ACHP's comments in reaching a final decision on the undertaking. In keeping with Section 36 CFR 800.7(c) (4) of the Section 106 regulations and Section 110(l) of the NHPA, Salazar must document this decision and may not delegate his responsibilities pursuant to Section 106. The ACHP will share the secretary's response with the public.
Rogers says the ACHP's comments are at odds with the findings of the MMS, which, two months ago concluded, that ‘the results of the analysis of the project alternatives indicated that the proposed action is most feasible and least detrimental when considering multiple environmental, technical, economic and social factors.’