The Moore American


July 26, 2012

U.S. prepares to lease huge tracts off East Coast for windmill farms


His comment refers to the fierce resistance to Cape Wind funded in large part by oil heir billionaire William Koch, who owns a home in Cape Cod. Opposition created strange bedfellows, namely Koch and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Koch, who has bankrolled conservative efforts and candidates to oppose the Democratic Party's environmental protection initiatives, this time helped finance an alliance that, along with objecting to the higher cost of energy generated by wind turbines, cited environmental concerns.

The challenges by opponents of Cape Wind illuminated a number of concerns about wind farms, including spoiled views and potential hazards to birds, marine life and underwater archaeological sites.

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BOEM, through a variety of studies, is anticipating those issues as part of its "Smart from the Start" leasing program.

The view of wind farms from land — perhaps the most contentious issue of Cape Wind — has been the easiest to address. The areas to be auctioned all start more than 10 miles offshore, as opposed to the five miles set for Cape Wind.

In addition to incorporating lessons learned with Cape Wind, the agency is grappling with the legacy of a poorly situated land-based wind farm in California that has killed thousands of raptors, souring some environmentalists on wind power.

Before opening offshore plots to wind farms — the total area is more than 1.5 million acres — the government is spending millions to study the distribution and behavior of such federally protected migratory species as red knots, roseate terns and piping plovers, as well as of diving birds, which forage on the continental shelf.

By the end of March, 14 red-throated loons, 11 surf scoters and six northern gannets had been captured and surgically implanted with satellite transmitters to determine the habitat of these diving birds. The study is part of a $1.4 million project being carried out by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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