The long-awaited impact assessment by the US Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service has finally been published. If all goes well, a Record of Decision (ROD) could come as early as the end of February. On the basis of impacts described, prospects do seem favorable. The hundreds of pages of text in an Environmental impact Statement are not just about birds, bees, bats and fish. There's a lengthy and peer-reviewed, economic impact study included, for example.
For a synopsis of all the impacts, rated for severity, have a look at the EIS' Executive Summary Tables, which can be downloaded as a pdf file here. There's a sample table excerpt presented below.
Most of the impacts of the proposed Cape Wind project are characterized in the EIS as "negligible" or "minor". Significant environmental risks posed include pile driving and potential for oil spills during construction and maintenance.
Money is the new obstacle.
Even if environmental impacts turn out not to be in the critical path for Cape Wind, financing might be. The entire wind power industry supply chain is now suffering from the banking crisis. For example, Kate Galbraith of the NYT Green, Inc. blog documents that serious layoffs are happening in the wind turbine manufacturing industry.
Cape Wind's long development cycle is emblematic of what's been wrong with energy policy in America. And with our culture. Somehow, we could build multiple nuclear power plants on US shores of the Great Lakes back in the 1970's; but, a wind farm miles off the East Coast is a problem - in the face of a climate catastrophe? That's just nuts.
If the Cape Wind designers can't find a cost-effective way to mitigate the minor-to-negligible environmental impacts, sufficient to get this project up and going, ASAP, we are so screwed as a nation.
If unable to do Cape Wind after years of planning and evaluation, we'd have reduced the Federal government's credibility going into revisions to the Kyoto convention in December.
Denmark and Netherlands and Germany and Spain would be justifiably cynical about the US' ability to deliver on goals for reducing green house gas emissions.
Earlier TreeHugger posts on Cape Wind.
'Environmentalists' Who Oppose Cape Wind Farm Apparently Linked to ...
Cape Wind: An Audio Interview With Robert Whitcomb
An Answer for Offshore Wind? ...
Another Voice in the Wind Debate
Feeling Better About Birds Bats & Offshore Wind