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April 28, 2010

Salazar OKs Cape Wind as Gulf Spill Continues

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

That, essentially, is what Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar acknowledged with his approval of the Cape Wind project, the nation’s first offshore wind farm, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.

Oceana’s chief scientist and senior vice president Mike Hirshfield had this to say about the big decision:

“We hope that today’s decision on Cape Wind will help set in motion a series of actions leading to additional American offshore wind projects.  It sends a clear signal to turbine manufacturers and supporting companies that the U.S. means business on clean energy and climate change.”

We have a long way to go on offshore wind in the U.S., but this is a crucial first step, especially in light of this month’s oil spill in the Gulf, which is oozing ever closer to landfall. After crews were unable to stop the oil spill with underwater robots, they are trying a new tack: setting it on fire.  

They hope to burn it off before it reaches shore, which will send a black plume of smoke containing soot and particulates into the atmosphere. And if it doesn’t work, the region of Louisiana that could be hit by the spill contains around 40 percent of the nation’s wetlands, with spawning grounds for many species of fish and birds.

And Greenwire reports that BP America — the responsible party here — opposed stricter safety and environmental rules last year, arguing that the existing voluntary standards were sufficient. As you can see, this is demonstrably false.

The U.S. has drilled in this region for more than 40 years. How, then, are we so ill-equipped to respond to a spill like this?

The choices we face are presented neatly right in front of us today: the dirty energy answers of the past or the clean energy choices of the future?

The answer is simple. It’s clear that offshore drilling will never be safe. Tell your Senators that we need more projects like Cape Wind – not more offshore drilling.

Matt Niemerski is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.