February 19, 2010
Salazar to work with Atlantic states to speed offshore wind permitting
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today promised to work closely with Atlantic Coast states to streamline the permitting process for offshore wind energy projects.
Speaking after a meeting at which eleven states were represented Secretary Salazar said the coastal states are leading the way in developing offshore wind power.
The Secretary was joined in a conference call after the meeting by Maine Governor John Baldacci (D); Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri (R); Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D); Maryland Governor Martin O'Mealley (D); Virginia State Senator Frank Wagner (R).
Secretary Salazar said he wanted to make sure that future wind projects avoid the kind of delays that have beset the Nantucket Sound Cape Wind project which has been in the works for nine years.
Salazar is still weighing the fate of the $1 billion project and has promised a decision by the end of April.
Illustrative of the difficulties of that decision is the issue of the importance to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) of a ceremony involving viewing the Nantucket Sound horizon at dawn. A small group of Mashpee Wampanoag members took Secretrary Salazar along for such a viewing when he visited he area earlier this month.
However, the Cape Cod Times reports today that,Jeffrey Madison, a former member of the Aquinnah tribe's tribal council has written Salazar saying essentially that the ceremony is a fabrication.
Mr. Madison said in his letter that he is the son of the Aquinnah tribe's medicine man whose own father was also a medicine man.
"I am stating to you with complete honesty and knowledge that I never participated in, witnessed, or even heard of a sacred spot on the horizon that is relevant to any Aquinnah Wamapnoag culture, history or ceremony," he wrote. His letter was supported by a petition signed by eight other tribe members, including a former chairman of the tribe and current representative of the state's Commission on Indian Affairs.
Mr. Madison is not himself a medicine man. He is a lawyer. In fact he is an attorney for Wynn and Wynn, a law firm that has been retained by Cape Wind Associates, LLC, in its efforts to build a 130-turbine wind farm in the sound. According to the Cape Cod Times report, Mr. Madison said in his letter that this connection to Cape Wind did not influence his decision to write to debunk what he described in the letter as the "fiction" of his tribe's contention that the horizon plays an important role in their beliefs.