What are Friends For?

Nov 11, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Simulation of view of Cape Wind from Cotuit, MA. Photo credit: http://www.capewind.org

When three leading environmental organizations seek to get involved in a federal court case about a proposed development project, it’s not usually on the side of the developer. But, this week, CLF, NRDC and Mass Audubon filed a motion to participate as “Friends of the Court” in support of the defendants in five pending federal cases challenging federal approvals of the Cape Wind offshore wind energy project. The plaintiffs, unsurprisingly including the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, are seeking to overturn the federal government’s 2010 approval of the landmark offshore wind project, the first to be approved in the United States.

Our federal court filing comes after more than a decade of exhaustive review undertaken by state and federal authorities, and by CLF and our colleagues in the environmental community – review that served to ensure Cape Wind’s approval was based on sound science and data, and that the project was thoroughly vetted through an open and transparent public process. Our support for the project reflects our findings that Cape Wind’s benefits far outweigh its impacts.

Between CLF, NRDC and Mass Audubon, we pack a couple hundred years of environmental advocacy and stewardship experience.  Collectively, we represent hundreds of thousands of Americans, from nearby Hyannis to far-flung Hawaii, who believe our country should prioritize a true clean energy agenda and move more quickly to deliver on the environmental, public health, energy security and economic benefits of responsible renewable energy. Backing the developer in the Cape Wind case may, at first blush, go against the grain of environmental advocacy history. But in this case, it is fully consistent with our longstanding missions to protect natural resources and public health – here, by advancing a key project that will begin to unleash the tremendous potential of offshore renewable energy, allowing Massachusetts and the region to dial back polluting fossil fuel power generation.

One Response to “What are Friends For?”

  1. Barbara Durkin

    NEPA Analysis should avoid taking on a project advocacy position. Mass Audubon collected data, analyzed and commented as an MMS identified Key Partner is the Cape Wind NEPA review during which they offered their conditional “support” for Cape Wind.

    Mass Audubon’s comments on the Cape Wind DEIS on February 23, 2005 to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District — Reference File No. NAE-2004-338-1, EOEA No. 12643:

    “By utilizing other bird mortality data provided in the DEIS, Mass Audubon staff scientists arrived at avian mortalities that ranged from 2,300 to 6,600 collision deaths per year.”

    ‘Minerals Management Service FY 2006 Cooperative Conservation Project’

    “Project Title:

    Cape Wind Energy Project
    Examples of Key Partners

    Cape Wind LLC, State of Massachusetts, Cape Cod Commission, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, and the U.S. Minerals Management Service.”


    Published: March 28, 2006
    A Cape Wind Challenge To Get It Right
    by Taber Allison and Jack Clarke

    “MASS AUDUBON CHALLENGES the developer of Cape Wind and its permitting agencies to accept comprehensive and rigorous monitoring and mitigation conditions that will reduce the risk to birds and other wildlife. If these conditions are adopted, and remaining data gaps are addressed, Mass Audubon will support Cape Wind, the largest, clean, renewable-energy project in the Northeast…”
    “…Monitoring and mitigation should be funded by Cape Wind with contributions from independent institutions and government agencies as appropriate.”


    MA Audubon Announces their intent to implement Adaptive Management for the Cape Wind Project “funded by Cape Wind”.

    Mass Audubon “What’s New? June 25, 2010 press release, excerpt:

    “Next Steps for Mass Audubon participation
    Mass Audubon will continue to analyze and report on Cape Wind through:
    1. MMS’ OCS lease arrangement;
    2. ACOE Section 10 permit issued under the US Rivers and Harbors Act;
    3. EMS adaptive management plan; and
    4. Avian monitoring and mitigation plan implementation during the construction and three year post-construction phases of the project.”


    Up to 6,600 avian mortalities per year is up to 6,600 violations of the strict liability criminal statute, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

    It’s tragic that CLF, NRDC and MA Audubon don’t recognize the peril you pose to the roseate tern, at the brink of extinction.