April 1st, 2009 - posted by Daniel Coffin
This past Monday the Cape Cod Commission (CCC) held a public meeting at the Barnstable District Courthouse to review its options as Cape Wind marches forward with its “super permit” issued by Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB). The EFSB reached a tentative decision in March to issue Cape Wind Associates a composite certificate which covers the final nine outstanding state and local approvals related to its electric cables.
The CCC was also overridden by the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM) just in January when CZM issued a pair of certifications of the environmental reports for the proposed wind farm. Following the CZM determinations, a pair of lawsuits were filed against the state for failing to consult with CCC, as required by law.
Punctuating Monday’s meeting several times was a glaring error in a front page Cape Cod Times (CCT) article in this past Friday’s issue: a supposed Cape Wind transmission cable was claimed to be 7 ¾ feet thick, though it is really just 7 ¾ inches. Walter Brooks of Cape Cod Today wasted no time pouncing, publishing a comical artist’s impression of the imagined supercable.
While both sides take pleasure in each other’s shortcomings, the meeting had a more serious intent, to teem out a clearer position for the Cape Cod Commission as it seeks to reestablish its jurisdiction in state matters. Many voices spoke out against Cape Wind, some reiterating oft-mentioned positions, while others offered new insight into how Cape Cod Commission should move forward. Many of those voices are people who’ve been fighting this battle for a while: Cliff Carroll, Rob Brussiere, Charles McLaughlin, Sen. Rob O’Leary, and Tom Bernardo. The Cape Cod Commission is an important regulator of the Cape Cod region – these several decisions by the Patrick administration overruling local jurisdiction will likely set precedents which slowly strip CCC of its strongest powers.
Key proponent of the wind farm, Rep. Matt Patrick (D-Barnstable), showed up to persuade the Commissioners from their long-held positions. Patrick articulated how the anti-Cape Wind prejudice was ingrained from the early days of the battle when the Cape Cod Times launched its “editorial jihad”, writing over 100 op-eds in opposition to the project. “In the end, most of our elected and appointed boards’ decisions are subject to the perspectives of the people on them and the frame of mind they have been given by local media,” he said.
Before finishing his remarks Patrick admonished the CCC’s efforts in continuing to fight Cape Wind. He said, “The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board has always been able to override local boards…always.” Whether the decision stands is up in the air, but what we know for sure is the battle isn’t over yet.
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