A decision made yesterday by the National Park Service may create a new hurdle for developers of a long-disputed proposal to build the nation’s first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
The park service has ruled that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places — a designation that requires consideration of adverse effects on historic properties when approving projects, according to Jeffrey Olson, a spokesperson for the National Park Service.
The park service made its decision after two Massachusetts Indian tribes argued that the wind turbines would disturb ancestral burial grounds and interfere with spiritual rituals that require clear views across the sound.
Known as Cape Wind, the project would cover about 24 square miles in Nantucket Sound, approximately the size of Manhattan. The new ruling may mean that the project will have to be moved, according to an article in today’s New York Times.
To discuss the tribal concerns, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who also oversees the National Park Service, has proposed a meeting between the tribes and Energy Management Inc., the company running the project, to discuss the issue. He has set March 1st as the deadline for the two groups to come to an agreement.
“America’s vast offshore wind resources offer exciting potential for our clean energy economy and for our nation’s efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Mr. Salazar said in a written statement. “But as we begin to develop these resources, we must ensure that we are doing so in the right way and in the right places.
Meanwhile, a representative for Boston-based Energy Management Inc., the company running the project, said that the complication was a minor one.
“We actually don’t think that eligibility actually affects Cape Wind at all,” said Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for the project.
Mr. Rodgers added that he was confident Mr. Salazar would find that the project’s “public interest benefits far exceed any negative impacts.”
There is no date set yet for the meeting Mr. Salazar is proposing, said Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for the secretary.
“We’ve gotten to the point where the Secretary is saying lets make a decision,” she said. “So he’s trying to bring all the parties together.”
If the two groups cannot come to a compromise, Mr. Salazar has the authority to make an executive decision regarding the project’s future.