It's Stunning! Why Has Cape Wind Been Delayed for 11 Years?

Even we were fooled!

All these 11 years, we thought Cape Wind – the first offshore wind farm in the US – was being held back by concerned citizens that didn’t want the wind farm to despoil their views or ruin the ecology off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. 

After all, the group that was behind the lawsuits and relentless pressure has such a nice conservationist sounding name – Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

It turns out there’s just one man behind that organization – Bill Koch, one of the Koch Brothers!!

"This is a battle where powerful, entrenched dirty energy interests have pitted themselves against emerging clean energy. It is a fight for the people of Massachusetts to have the green energy jobs they want and the home-grown energy they need, when they need it," says John Kassel, president of the  Conservation Law Foundation, which just launched the website, Cape Wind Now, to expose Koch.  

In our recent article about research that shows Offshore Wind Turbines Could Power Entire East Coast,  we said, "the sole offshore wind project approved by the federal government thus far – Cape Wind – continues to meet with opposition from local residents concerned about the impact on views and property values." Yes, we were fooled. The last thing the Koch Bros want is for that much renewable energy, which could make a dent in their fossil fuel profits.

The Cape Wind Now website features detailed accounts of the Alliance’s relentless efforts to block Cape Wind, including its most recent scheme of quietly funding the Town of Barnstable’s anti-Cape Wind litigation, says Karen Wood of the Conservation Law Foundation in Cape Cod Today.

"The Alliance pumped $355,000 into a special gift account established by the Town Council for the sole purpose of funding its Cape Wind litigation," she says, "with the funds to be ‘managed and expended according to the wishes and instructions of the donor.’"

Despite having lost nearly every lawsuit, appeal and administrative challenge – even prompting a congressional inquiry into the Federal Aviation Administration’s fourth straight determination that Cape Wind does not pose a threat to air traffic safety – its efforts continue to delay Cape Wind from being built.

Organizations that support Cape Wind include the nation’s biggest environmental groups:  Greenpeace, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Audubon Society, Toxics Action Center, Environmental League of Massachusetts, as well as labor and public health groups.

The $1 billion, 468 megawatt project would be built 4.7 miles off the coast of Massachusetts in Nantucket Bay. It would supply 75% of the electricity for Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket – more than 200,000 homes.

Here’s some more illuminating information from ClimateProgress.

by Michael Conathan

It’s not even halfway through October, but Bill Koch has already put on his Halloween costume. This year, the black sheep of the billionaire band of brothers has decided to "trick or treat" as an environmentalist.

Yesterday, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound – a group established by Koch and his cronies to wage war on Cape Wind, the first offshore wind farm proposed in U.S. waters – dredged up an old lawsuit against the project. The frivolous nature of this latest tilt at the project’s offshore windmills is enough to make even Don Quixote blush.

This time, the plaintiffs allege the turbines would violate the Endangered Species Act, creating unacceptable risks to protected birds, sea turtles, and the north Atlantic right whale. What they fail to acknowledge is that any potential negative effects from the wind farm’s construction have already been looked at over and over again during the project’s 11 year trek through the regulatory process. The Environmental Impact Statement finalized by the Department of the Interior in 2009 carefully considered endangered species and determined that Cape Wind would not pose any population risks.

Perhaps most galling was the Alliance calling out the Sierra Club in its press release as an organization that has "sounded the alarm" about Cape Wind. The Sierra Club is, in fact, a vocal supporter of the project. In August, the Club released a report, "Clean Energy Under Siege," detailing the carefully executed campaign launched by Koch and other oil and gas industry leaders against Cape Wind and the rest of the clean energy economy. The Sierra Club has also joined the Conservation Law Foundation in launching Cape Wind Now, an initiative with the goal of combatting the endless stall tactics from Koch and the Alliance.

Koch’s environmentalist costume comes with a lofty price tag. As a co-director of the Alliance, he has been one of its biggest donors since its inception in 2003. According to the Sierra Club’s report:

  • as of 2006, he had contributed more than $1.5 million to the cause. If those contributions have held steady over the years, that would mean he’s approaching $5 million of personal money spent opposing the project.
  • in 2009, his company Oxbow Energy, paid virtually the entire salary of the Alliance’s President, approximately $150,000.
  • Oxbow also spent more than $600,000 to lobby the FAA against approving Cape Wind.

Why? In addition to protecting his investment in dirty energy, Koch also owns a massive, oceanfront mansion in a country club community on Cape Cod with ample views of the area of the Sound where the project will be constructed, Koch has openly opposed the project even though from his mansion, the turbines would appear as tiny twigs on the horizon.

And then there’s also that other matter of preventing a commercially-proven, immediately available renewable source of energy from gaining a foothold in a region desperate for additional power capacity and establishing itself as a legitimate alternative to the Koch brothers’ precious oil, gas, and coal.

Just remember, Massachusetts, when the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound comes ringing your doorbell all dressed up as an environmental group, you better take a peek behind the mask. Otherwise, the trick will be on you.


Michael Conathan is the Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress. This article first appeared on their Climate Progress website.

Check out Cape Wind Now:

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Comments on “It's Stunning! Why Has Cape Wind Been Delayed for 11 Years?”

  1. Not Koch

    There are A LOT of us that care about the sanctity of Nantucket Sound. We would support Wind anywhere else. It just doesn’t belong here. There are MANY of us who don’t support this project — but it’s easier to dismiss if you paint it as one man’s whim.

  2. The Rest of Us

    I am sure there are other people on Nantucket Island, home of the ultra exclusive, who joined Koch’s organization, or have been persuaded by its false agenda.
    “Not Koch” says they are for wind anywhere other than off the “Sanctity of Nantucket Sound.” Not in our priviledged back yard.
    To which I say, how vile. How many pristine environments have the Koch’s and others destroyed — and continue to destroy – in the process of accumulating their incredible wealth? Koch’s are heavily invested in tar sand extraction. You have seen pictures of the devastation in Alberta, Canada? Mountain top coal removal? Poisin rivers from toxic chemical dumps from their paper plants? Deforestation.
    Yet these beautiful windmills, nothiing more than a distant blip on the horizon from shore, nothing different than a very distant ship or sailboat on the water…is just unexceptable — because they own it all, and won’t have it in their back yard.
    The jobs for Massachuetts, the enormous boon to citizens for fuel-free, clean energy for millions of people again blocked by a handful of selfish wealth with money interests in fossil fuels.

  3. ackboy

    I have no love for Bill Koch, but in this instance, I’m on his side. Nantucket Sound is the wrong place for this project. There’s no guarantee that the power generated would stay in this area. The power would be sold to whomever would pay the highest price. This article is correct that one of the biggest right wing nut jobs is spending a ton of money to quash it, but there are a lot of people living on the Cape and Islands who are in agreement with him. I’m a liberal who doesn’t want to see the Sound despoiled with windmills. If you’d like to say this is a NIMBY post, you’re correct. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to see a beautiful, unspoiled place looking like some areas where there are oil rigs erected.

  4. Cotuiter

    If you don’t want wind miles out in Nantucket Sound, how about a coal plant at the Barnstable Transfer Station site – with coal trucks going in and out and huge chimneys belching mercury-laden smoke? Wind development will do nothing to our views or our Sound – except help make us responsible for our own energy – and this energy would be clean.


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