After years of political wrangling over a contentious plan to build large wind turbines in Nantucket Sound off the Massachusetts coast, a new proposal for a similar type of wind development in nearby Buzzard’s Bay is gaining traction among politicians and environmentalists alike. The key difference is that the latter plan proposes to site its wind turbines in an already busy shipping channel traversed by more than 8,000 commercial ships each year, whereas the earlier Nantucket proposal calls for siting turbines in relatively pristine open ocean.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who has been against the Nantucket proposal, is tentatively on board for the Buzzard’s Bay plan. “Wind is an important alternative source of energy, which Governor Romney supports,” says Romney’s spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom. “We think the proposed Buzzards Bay wind farm is an intriguing idea and we’re anxious to learn more about it,” he adds.
Meanwhile, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, who represents nearby New Bedford, Massachusetts and has supported efforts to squash the Nantucket Sound proposal, has come out in favor of the Buzzard’s Bay plan as well, citing the need for “energy that is renewable and nonpolluting, particularly in Southeastern Mass.”
Despite winning over a few naysayers, some environmentalists worry that adding more congestion and development to a narrow and already crowded shipping channel could be a recipe for disaster. An April 2003 tanker accident dumped almost 100,000 gallons of crude oil in Buzzard’s Bay, polluting miles of coastline and temporarily shutting down shellfish beds while killing hundreds of birds.