Interested parties were unable to agree on mitigation for Cape wind's effects on the historical character of Nantucket Sound. Secretary Salazar terminated the consultations.
The Wampanoag tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoags and the Aquinnah of Martha’s Vineyard were not able to reach a satisfactory agreement with Cape Wind (Energy Management Inc.) on mitigating any adverse impact to the historic significance of Nantucket Sound.
“It has become clear that it is not possible to proceed with the proposed project in a manner that will be acceptable to all the consulting parties, including the tribes,” Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar wrote in a letter to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. “There have been no mitigation measures proposed by any of the various parties that can bridge the divide.”
As a result, the ACHP will open a 45-day comment period for the public and active parties to offer their views to the council. The council will provide those comments to Salazar, who toured Nantucket Sound on Feb. 2, and he will make a final decision on whether to approve or deny the project.
“The time has come to bring the reviews and analysis of the Cape Wind Project to a conclusion,” Salazar said in a statement. “I am asking the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for their comments and I will then make a final decision on the proposal. The parties, the public and the permit applicants deserve resolution and certainty.”
The effects on historic properties must be considered under federal law (Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act). Brona Simon of the Massachusetts Historical Commission suggested Nantucket Sound could be listed in the National Historic Register as a “Traditional Cultural Property” and the National Park Service’s Keeper of the National Register agreed Jan. 4 that the sound was eligible.
The Minerals Management Service concluded otherwise over a year ago when it released its final Environmental Impact Statement on Cape Wind. Salazar, who oversees both agencies, wants to resolve the differences between the NPS and MMS and issue a final decision.
The Wampanoags were not direct parties to the potential agreement, but they would have to happy in order for the Massachusetts Historic Commission (which was a party) to be so also. Other parties were Cape Wind, the MMS and the ACHP.
“The tribes message at these (Jan. 13 and Feb. 2) meetings with their opinion at previous meetings: There are no acceptable mitigation measures for the impacts to their Traditional Cultural Properties,” Salazar wrote, and since other consulting parties oppose the project he terminated the consultations.
The Wampanoags believe their ancestors walked across the sound to Martha’s Vineyard (when the sea level was lower) and are buried beneath the seafloor. ACHP archeologists have determined there is a submerged landscape.
Also, as “The People of the First Light” they hold sunrise ceremonies looking out upon the sound and the turbines would adversely affect those.
Cape Wind would install 130 wind turbines, with a blade height of 440 feet across 25 square miles of Horseshoe Shoal in the center of Nantucket Sound. The project has been under local, state and Federal review since 2001.
The Cape Codder