The controversial Cape Wind Project, which aims to install offshore power-generating windmills across 24 miles of the Atlantic Ocean near Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts, may face its stiffest challenge yet in the form of recently proposed federal legislation that would allow state governments to nix any projects that could potentially interfere with navigation in shipping lanes.
The proposal was first suggested in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) as an amendment to the Coast Guard Authorization Bill. The contentious proposal was recrafted for the Senate version of the bill, and is now being considered by the conference committees that work out differences between the two bodies of Congress.
Massachusetts’ governor’s office, which strongly opposes the Cape Wind project despite widespread public support for it, welcomes the amendment. Meanwhile, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a nonprofit that leads the charge to kill the wind project, reported that the proposed Congressional legislation reflected a recognition of the potential safety problems of the project. Meanwhile, just last week, the Massachusetts Audubon Society came out in favor of the project, citing the need for more sources of renewable energy to reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels.
While support for the contentious amendment remains strong in the House of Representatives, it could go either way in the Senate. Political pundits report that Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington who is a strong proponent of renewable energy and environmental protection, wields the all-important swing vote that could determine the fate of the project.