Case Study: Cape Wind

After an extensive review process, Mass Audubon supports the development of Cape Wind and we have compiled extensive review comments and field research on the project. Mass Audubon's final position on the Cape Wind project is based on our review of the Final Environmental Impact Statement released by the U. S. Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service in April 2010

About Cape Wind

The Cape Wind Project proposed for Horseshoe Shoal, Nantucket Sound will be the first offshore wind energy project in the United States. Once completed, it will be the largest renewable-energy project in the Northeast.

Mass Audubon began its review of the Cape Wind Project in August 2001. Since that time, we have commented on dozens of studies and permit applications, identified data gaps and need for standards, contributed the results of our own extensive avian research, and challenged Cape Wind and its permitting agencies to accept rigorous monitoring and mitigation conditions to help improve the environmental review of this significant project.

The Mass Audubon Challenge

In March 2006, following extensive staff and board review of the project, Mass Audubon issued the Cape Wind Challenge recommending conditions and identifying remaining data gaps that needed to be addressed in order for Mass Audubon to support this project.  

Mass Audubon's Challenge was based on five years of project review, including three years of ornithological fieldwork; our assessment and comments on Cape Wind’s first federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and literature review; talks with ornithologists, scientists, and engineers; and a visit to Denmark's offshore wind farms during the 2005 spring bird migration.

Our technical review and assessment of the Cape Wind DEIS primarily focused on the project's impacts on birds and their habitat. An important basis for our review has been that the project would result in no ecologically significant impact to living resources. This standard does not imply zero impact on those resources, because the production of energy always entails some level of environmental impact.

While our primary expertise is birdlife, there are other important potential environmental impacts. Our position relied on the evaluation of our own scientists and the expertise of other organizations in assessing any potential threats from this project to the seafloor, fisheries, marine mammals, and other sea life.

Download and read the full text of the 2006 Challenge Proposal Regarding The Cape Wind Energy Project above.