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November 3, 2002
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A proposed mega wind farm miles into the ocean off Cape Cod is being fought by Democrats like Robert Kennedy Jr because it would "obstruct" the view from his oceanside house on clear days. Other concerns like bird kills (perhaps a few hundred birds a year), fish disruption from poles in the sand and danger to low flying planes are cited and could hold the project up for 5 years or perhaps forever. Would you care about a windfarm out in the ocean if Kennedy and few other had a view that was not "like when the Pilgrams arrived" or is this powerfull community leaders pulling a Not in my Backyard when it comes to fighting for the Environment. Horseshoe Shoals is one of the best wind spots on the East Coast.
posted by stbalbach (30 comments total)

 
is being fought by Democrats like Robert Kennedy Jr

So what does his being a democrat have to do with this? Or is this yet another MeFi political troll post?
posted by Space Coyote at 7:40 PM on November 3, 2002 [1 favorite]


Space Coyote - It's about combating Global Warming (wind is a clean, non CO2 emitting energy source), or just ignoring it until NYC is underwater or low lying Bangladesh is wiped off the map by a giant hurricane which sends 100 million fleeing into India...

NIMBY for sure. Liberal Mass.? Paah....."10 degrees to the right of center when it effects them personally" (to quote Phil Ochs). This is pathetic, but Sudden Climate Change may one day (soon) make Mass. pay for it's hypocritical ways....
posted by troutfishing at 7:48 PM on November 3, 2002


Well, Democrats typically are the ones seen on the side of enviromental progress.... personally I have to agree with the Kennedys on this one, however. Wind farms are fine in the midwest or whatever where there is plenty of open space for them, but spoiling New England beachfront for one seems a bit unnecessary. Put it near Mt. Washington or something.
posted by Spacelegoman at 7:48 PM on November 3, 2002


Oh yeah, I forgot to add...Democrats are supposed to be better on this issue than Republicans, in that Dems at least don't refute or ignore the US National Academy of Sciences conclusion that Global Warming is quite real, quite ominous, and potentially catastrophic....But the issue is a bit theoretical right now - because the US hasn't yet signed onto the Kyoyo Protocol (which would mandate cuts in US CO2 emissions).

If ever there was a clear and pathetic case of Democratic hypocrisy, the fight against the proposed Nantucket wind farm is it.
posted by troutfishing at 7:57 PM on November 3, 2002


I think, troutfishing, what Space Coyote was saying was that the post seemed an excuse for a partisan political swipe.

But as long as we're talking about windmills, which are pretty cool, there's something kind of niftily science-fictional (or old-style Popular Science) in this image of an turbine in the U.K.
posted by BT at 7:59 PM on November 3, 2002


I worked on a study of potential wind-farm sites in Eastern MA when I was in school. The area off of Cape Cod (and some of the area on land) is stunningly well-suited to wind power. Setting aside social factors, there is no better place in MA to set up a large wind farm. Power generation in that are would actually be competitive or better with convential powerplants, without comparable environmental costs.

I'm actually impressed as hell that any progress towards placing farms there has been made. Pretty sad. I know people like having their pristine view, their upper-crust Cape property values, but we're talking about a bold step toward solving what is an increasingly dire energy crunch in this country. My instinct, having studied the problem, is to tell the folks on the Cape to go fuck themselves, but that didn't make it into the report.

I'm interested to see what the impact on local fishlife might be, but as far as birds are concerned there has been considerable effort over the last decade to address the problem via propeller design and other means.

Some info on the topic is available from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
posted by cortex at 8:10 PM on November 3, 2002


Spacelegoman - as proposed, the Natucket wind farm would be noticeable...WITH BINOCULARS.....And I seem to remember an awfull lot of tacky, rampant development on the Cape - some of which is actually quite obvious from the shore; are you working on banning that?

You don't own some Cape beachfront property, now, do you? Well if you do, I have news for you: insurance losses from weather disasters doubled between the 80's and the 90's and if the trend -- partly related to Global Warming - continues, owners will soon lose the ability to insure their beachfront property. This is compounded by a steady rate of sea level rise (Global Warming again) and the nightmare scenarios of 1) collapse of the West Antarctic Ice sheet (no more problem - no more Cape!) or 2) the cessation of Ocean Circulation (predicted by the top oceanagraphic research institution in the world, "Wood's Hole" which is also, coincidentally, on the Cape) which would simply make the Cape as attractive for summer play as beachfront property within the Arctic circle.
posted by troutfishing at 8:15 PM on November 3, 2002


the post seemed an excuse for a partisan political swipe

Before this thread gets hijacked into a debate about politics, the mention of "Democrat" was to point out the unlikely players in this debate and how the personal interests of certain powerfull Democrats conflict with saveing the environment. Oh, the irony.

I believe that the amout of pollution the wind mill will save justifys the potential eye sore. The amount of forest and habitat destruction by coal and other pollution not to mention human health and global warming from traditional energy sources would far exceed any problems with the windmill. There is no such thing as an energy source that has no impact and we dont have a lot of time to figure out alternative solutions before Cape Cod is under 10 feet of water and theres no view for anyone.
posted by stbalbach at 8:15 PM on November 3, 2002


if only people could love each other
posted by Postroad at 8:19 PM on November 3, 2002


Space Coyote: Thought you'd like to know that Republican Mitt Romney is also against the wind farm.

I guess stbalbach just forgot to mention it. After all, no one would troll for arguments by presenting a FPP combining a thoughtfully constructed newslink and a few words of partisan commentary. After all, that post wasn't about politics.
posted by ?! at 8:25 PM on November 3, 2002


Some additional opinions on the topic, and coverage from The Cape Cod Times.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:28 PM on November 3, 2002


stbalbach - Truly ironic. Thanks for the post. I for one (a democrat, sort of) think that RFK jr. and the Cape Cod liberals should be roasted for this. The funny thing is: their obstructionism may contribute to the destruction of their precious Cape. Ha ha ha....well...it's not actually all that funny...in fact it's quite sad. *sigh*
posted by troutfishing at 8:29 PM on November 3, 2002


Given Kennedy and the Democrat's support of alt energy hype, it seems perfectly legitimate to call them out on the fact that they are pulling NIMBY wit this one.

If it will make anybody feel better, I'll point out that Bush's steel tariff deal was also hypocritical given his support for free trade. . .Although it wasn't self-serving like Kennedy's effort to squash the wind farm.
posted by nobody_knose at 8:53 PM on November 3, 2002


nobody_knose: No, it wasn't as if Bush wanted any sort of political support in return for the steel tariff deal. Sheesh. What's your definition of "self-serving?"
posted by raysmj at 8:59 PM on November 3, 2002


I'm all for windmills but as madamjujujive's links point out, there are two sides to this particular issue and Senator Edward Kennedy is still sitting on the fence in regards to the windmill farm. So then it becomes not a case of Democrats so much as of an individual who happens to be a member of the owning class.
posted by y2karl at 9:03 PM on November 3, 2002


Troutfishing-- re the "If ever... Democratic hypocrisy". Assuming you're speaking of the politcal party, not the manner in which the US is governed, your accusations ring a high order of dingbatism.
Although not a Democrat myself, I'd sincerely question the easy "lump sum" route.
posted by G_Ask at 9:17 PM on November 3, 2002


(my statement) "If ever there was a clear and pathetic case of Democratic hypocrisy, the fight against the proposed Nantucket wind farm is it." -- G_Ask: Leaving "dingbatism" aside, I'm unclear about how to interpret your phrase "the easy "lump sum" route".
posted by troutfishing at 9:24 PM on November 3, 2002


personally I've always thought that wind farms look pretty cool (http://rotor.fb12.tu-berlin.de/windfarm.html)...and looking at them always gives me a satisfied feeling that we're using the earth, not abusing it. It's free power right? And no hostile foreign nations involved. I think it's pretty sad that the powerful people in this country cannot see that but are instead so shallow, self centered and short sighted.
posted by zolo at 9:57 PM on November 3, 2002


It's free power right?

I dunno... somehow I worry that if we extract a few terawatts from wind circulation, Bad Things might happen. Same with OTEC.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:53 PM on November 3, 2002


Wind farms are fine in the midwest...but spoiling New England beachfront for one seems a bit unnecessary.

So my view of the North American Prairies is some how less valuable than the New England coastline? I don't know where you hail from, Spacelegoman, but that is the epitome of the NIMBY view. I personally thing Wind power has a lot of potential, but the thought that one scenic view is more important or majestic than another is stupid. Everyone need to be willing to sacrifice a little.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:13 AM on November 4, 2002


These NIMBY people are horrid and must be defeated. I've sure there's some way using sound to keep birds away from the blades. And a way to quiet the things. And make them less noticable. God, what idiots.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:53 AM on November 4, 2002


Everyone need to be willing to sacrifice a little

Quite right. I know there have been some objections to wind farms in New South Wales near houses as apparently they're quite noisy, which I can understand, but I would personally be quite happy to look at one from a distance, whether on a plain or in the ocean.

Compared to an oil refinery they're downright picturesque!
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:56 AM on November 4, 2002


This debate is very similar to the ones Parisians had over the Tour Eiffel. What do you bet that, if built, in a couple of generations, these windmills would be as much revered as those of the Netherlands? That the historical committees will have strict windmill-design standards, to conform to the true Cape Cod windmills of yore?
posted by bonehead at 6:00 AM on November 4, 2002


Mmmmm. Cape Cod windmills of yore... /fall into dreamland

Me? (part-time Cambridge resident, born in New England, occasional visitor to Nantuck and lover of Denmark) -- I'd like to see this project go ahead.
posted by Dick Paris at 6:10 AM on November 4, 2002


Living near a wind farm (the one ouside Livermore, CA) I can say that I find them to be a terrible blight. Thousands of acres of evenly spaced items. If they were doing anything other than producing "free" energy they would likely be blasted for destroying the natural beauty of wherever they reside.

That said, if you are going to build them anyway, on the water seems better than on the land (in terms of impact) and it shouldn't really matter whose view is being obstructed. People all over the world live on ocean-front property with views of man-made stuff (off-shore oil rigs; container ships that sit for days waiting for a slot at port; fishing boats; etc.) and I'm sure the people of Cape Cod would survive.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:23 AM on November 4, 2002


Well, I think I can see both sides here.. The 'pro' side is obvious - 'wind power is clean and safe and warm and fuzzy and happy for everyone!'.

Now, the Cape people do have a point.. the installation would be the largest off-shore of its kind. The idea of 'blight' doesn't come into play in Denmark because they only have 20 towers.. multiply that by 10.

Both sides photo's, by using actual photos of off-shore installations as a comparison, are inaccurate. The anti side, of course, assume people don't know the difference between kilometers and miles - their simulations show the windmills slightly larger at 5 miles than actual photos show similar towers at 6 km.

Meanwhile, the pro-side seems to think that at 5 miles, the things will be dots, which in comparison to shots at 11 kilometers, the windmills are still obviously visible.

Now, add visibility to the large number (170) they want to place on the shoal, and it becomes a very obvious installation, that takes up a very large footprint - 25 square miles.

Part of environmentalism is preserving open space, and the natural look of 'pristine' environments. No matter how asthectically pleasing you find wind turbines, the installation is definately not natural, and can be related to the proliferation of cellular towers.

There also is no discussion from the pro-side on Mass being an energy exporter at the current time, and thus not needing the extra capacity.

The Cape area is also a heavy stopping ground for many migratory species - birds in the air, and dolphines and whales in the ocean. There was mention that the turbines spin slowly - but I could still see a large flock of birds being decimated flying through 25 arces of turbines.

As for ocean mammals - observations of seals basking in the sun near current turbine installations doesn't give any indication of the impact 10 times the number of turbines will have on them - let alone the impact during construction.

One final note is how strong are these things? Anyone on the north east coast knows the power of the N'oreasters we get - they can punch as much wallop as a hurricane. What kind of pounding can these things take?
posted by rich at 6:49 AM on November 4, 2002


rich: How dare you go and post an informed and balanced comment! Can't you see there was a fine little political/geographical war going on? Now you've gone and ruined it! For shame!
posted by grum@work at 7:14 AM on November 4, 2002


I used to live in Nebraska; on I-80 between Lincoln and Omaha there are a few wind turbines (really, if they want to build a wind farm on the prairie, they should pick Nebraska--I've never been subjected to as much wind as I was when I lived in Lincoln, it never stops) and I always found them to be a lovely accent to the landscape--they have a strange, austere beauty of their own which somehow seems to match the rolling prairie and open sky of the area.

I think this is, in part, a case of NIMBY by a group of people who are privileged to have the ability to have their concerns heard by the media as well as a number of government agencies--isn't it a pity that the concerns of people who aren't as privileged are usually dismissed?
posted by eilatan at 7:31 AM on November 4, 2002


belatedly, troutfishing-- giving you the benefit of the doubt, I read your comments as inflammatory generalizations against democrats based on Kennedy and a community that otherwise leans left and your appetite to "roast" them. And although I'd rather have a visible "wind farm" off the coast of Santa Barbara replacing the visually unappealing oil "horses" we have, my concern, and a valid one, is the ownership and management of such species by a private entity.
posted by G_Ask at 2:32 PM on November 4, 2002


rich: a couple things...

Part of environmentalism is preserving open space, and the natural look of 'pristine' environments. No matter how asthectically pleasing you find wind turbines, the installation is definately not natural, and can be related to the proliferation of cellular towers.

This is ridiculous. Consider, by comparison, the aesthetic impact of urban sprawl. Or of oil spillage. Or of clear-cutting. Or of any number of other things -- often tied directly to mainstream power generation, at that -- which have an impact proportionally dwarfing the possible impact of even a wildly optimistic wind-farm siting plan.

There also is no discussion from the pro-side on Mass being an energy exporter at the current time, and thus not needing the extra capacity.

Which isn't really relevant. The whole idea behind wind power is to affect a transition to clean, low-impact power generation. It's something that will not happen overnight, so it'll have to be done a step at a time, by folks willing to look toward the future.

One final note is how strong are these things? Anyone on the north east coast knows the power of the N'oreasters we get - they can punch as much wallop as a hurricane. What kind of pounding can these things take?

An awful lot. Turbine design over the last twenty years has focused very directly on dealing with varying wind conditions, and especially on high-wind tolerance. Past a certain threshold of wind speed, towers will disengage their turbine blades to avoid any potential damage to the machinery; the whole turbine getup at the top is designed to swivel (which allows efficient use of wind from any direction); blade design has improved steadily for years.

And when you get right down to it, a damaged windtower is reasonably inexpensive to repair -- and a damaged windtower poses no real threat to the surrounding environment. Compare to nuclear or fossil plants.
posted by cortex at 8:29 PM on November 4, 2002


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