Massachusetts Attorney General's call for moratorium on offshore facilities

All US coasts in danger of land grab overdevelopment if Cubin Bill passes

provided by The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound

he Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound today praised Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly for his call on the federal government to halt the planned development of the pristine Nantucket Sound for a wind energy plant – indeed, similar development along all US coastlines – until issues of jurisdiction and legality can be determined.

    In a letter sent to US Representative Barbara Cubin (R-WY), chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and US Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV), ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Reilly supports the intent but criticized Cubin's bill – H.R. 5156 – designed to allow the development of renewable energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. He voiced his concern that Congress put in place, “safeguards I believe to be necessary before we permit private developer's access to this extraordinary public resource.”

    The Cubin bill has been characterized by opponents as a “land grab” by private developers who say they support offshore wind energy development but in reality are using wind energy as a stalking horse for the big oil industry with offshore interests. Presently, there are nearly two-dozen offshore wind energy projects being proposed, from New England to the Atlantic Coastal States and the Great Lakes. The rest of the US coastline is also being considered.

    In a second letter sent jointly to the US Departments of Justice and Interior and the US Army Corps of Engineers, Reilly today said that based on his office's review of applicable law, “I do not believe that the project may proceed under existing federal law even if it obtains the requested approvals.”

    Further, Reilly wrote: “I am therefore writing to urge you to review this issue; I urge the Corps in particular to refrain from undertaking any further action relative to offshore facilities until the issues I will more fully describe below are resolved.”

    Reilly closed his letter stating: “Based on our expectation that your review will confirm the Department of Interior's position that additional authority is needed, I also urge you to work with Congress to address this hole in the law. Until Congress has specified what leasing process should be required, I ask the Corps to defer undertaking any further action on pending or future permit applications and to avoid creating undue expectations in project proponents.”

    Alliance Executive Director Isaac Rosen called Reilly's intervention today “much needed common sense on this proposal. The issues of jurisdiction and authority have to be settled before Cape Wind is allowed to take one more step on this project and before other developers follow suit and destroy our national coastline.”

    Rosen said Attorney General Reilly is exactly right when he states that the Army Corps is “giving away an invaluable public resource to the very first private developer to seek its use” without first giving the public “an adequate opportunity to consider all the consequences.”

    “There needs to be a serious assessment of the appropriateness of this project, and that cannot be done while this developer builds it,” said Rosen. “Attorney General Reilly and Congressman Delahunt have provided much needed wisdom and leadership on this issue and we sincerely hope that someone in the federal bureaucracy is listening.”