Ken Salazar, secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), has concluded the historic preservation consultation process for the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, clearing the way for a final decision on the project.
Salazar notified the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation that the parties to the consultations have not been able to reach an agreement on mitigation actions for the proposed wind turbine farm in the federal waters of Nantucket Sound.Â
The council has 45 days to provide an opportunity for the consulting parties and the public to offer their views. The council will then provide its comments to Salazar, who will take those comments into consideration before deciding whether to approve or deny the project.
‘It is clear to me that the consulting parties are not able to bridge their divides and reach agreement on actions to minimize and mitigate the Cape Wind project's effects on historic and cultural resources,’ says Salazar. ‘I am asking the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for their comments, and I will then make a final decision on the proposal. The parties, the public and the permit applicants deserve resolution and certainty.’
Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, federal agencies must take into account the effects of a proposed project on historic properties and determine, through the consultation process, whether an agreement can be reached on minimizing or mitigating any adverse effects of the proposed project.Â
The Minerals Management Service, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Office and Cape Wind LLC have been meeting since July 2008 to consider affected sites and since June 2009 to consider potential measures to mitigate adverse impacts on identified historic and cultural resources in and around Nantucket, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Sound.
At a meeting in January with the various consulting parties in Washington, D.C., Salazar set a March 1 deadline for determining whether it was possible to reach an agreement on acceptable mitigation measures for the project.Â
The secretary then traveled to Massachusetts in February to continue the consultation process, meeting with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and visiting several of the tribal cultural sites, as well as viewing the proposed project site in Nantucket Sound.Â
In related news, a $1 million offer by Cape Wind Associates LLC to each of the Indian tribes fighting the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm has been declined, the Cape Cod Times reports.
The offer, which sources say was for $50,000 a year for 20 years, comes as negotiations wind down between the wind energy developer and Aquinnah over the impact of Cape Wind's plan to build 130 turbines in the Sound.
The tribes contend that the turbines would be built in an area submerged beneath the Sound where their ancestors once lived. They also argue that an important sunrise ceremony would be disrupted by the turbines.
Review of the Cape Wind project began in 2001, when Cape Wind Associates applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to construct an offshore wind power facility on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, offshore of Massachusetts. Over the next three years, the Corps completed a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, along with a separate review and issuance of a permit to construct a meteorological tower for data-collection purposes.
SOURCES: U.S. Department of the Interior, Cape Cod Times