Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nature as morally contested terrain

Here's an article on today's CNN newsfeed, about the fight over offshore wind farms near Cape Cod:

Nine-year wind farm fight splits Cape Cod

By Wayne Drash, CNN

  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to decide on fate of nation's first offshore wind farm
  • Site is in Nantucket Sound, one of America's most iconic bodies of water
  • Opponents concerned about historic preservation, safety
  • Advocates say project is a must to move country forward

Falmouth, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The Rev. William Eddy stands at the bow of his 53-foot sailboat nestled in the postcard setting of Cape Cod.

A lifelong resident of the Cape and islands, Eddy built his staysail schooner by hand, and on this day, he's using it as his pulpit. A perfect storm, he says, has been brewing over the past decade among residents driven to hysterics by the idea of building the nation's first offshore wind farm in the middle of Nantucket Sound.

Eddy loves everything about the Cape: the iconic shingled homes, the Norman Rockwell small towns and the pristine beauty of the sea. Most of all, the Episcopal priest loves the magnificent winds.

And he thinks it's a moral imperative to harness those winds. He's told his congregation just that -- and watched some walk out on his sermon. "Father, we all would've stayed if you had just preached about Darfur," one member told him.

Eddy is unbowed. "It's a no-brainer," he said of the wind farm. "I keep on wondering what's going to happen down there in Washington: Are they going to crucify this project on a cross of coal? Or are they going to stand up for what they've said they're going to stand up for?"

For those whose views differ from Eddy's -- including, apparently, some of his flock -- the pristine beauty he extols is the point. Nantucket Sound, they say, is an iconic symbol of America, not an industrial park. Might as well plop a bunch of wind turbines in the middle of the Grand Canyon, they say.

"It's an area that absolutely should be off-limits," said Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

Wind farms produce roughly 2 percent of the nation's energy, all from land-based facilities in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and a few other states. Locations offshore are considered optimal because the winds are stronger and more consistent.

Read the rest of the article at http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/04/20/cape.cod.wind.farm/index.html?hpt=C1

Never too late to change paper topics.

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