Salazar sez good things about Cape Wind, still needs to act

According to this AP story from yesterday, Interior Secretary Salazar said that the Cape Wind project "makes sense." That's good news, but Secretary Salazar still needs to issue the record of decision for the project and give it a lease. In the AP interview, the Secretary also says:

The scientists tell me that when you look at the wind energy potential off the Atlantic it may be greater than we have onshore. But what we don't have in place at this point is the rules to move forward with energy offshore.

That's because the Bush administration sat on draft rules for ages. So finalizing the "Alternative Energy-Related Use" (AERU) rules quickly is another think the Secretary has to do.

NRDC, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Union of Concern Scientists made these points in this letter delivered to the Secretary yesterday.

Here's a key paragraph on the Cape Wind project:

Although we believe that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Cape Wind, released by Minerals Management Service (MMS) on January 16, 2009,understates the considerable clean energy and climate benefits of the Project, it nonetheless reasonably reflects that the environmental benefits of the Cape Wind project will far outweigh the impacts. The FEIS provides a solid foundation on which MMS should move forward to issue a favorable Record of Decision (ROD) and grant Cape Wind a lease to construct and operate a 130-turbine wind energy facility on the OCS. We strongly urge that the Record of Decision also include reasonable monitoring, mitigation and adaptive management protocols (including those recommended in the FEIS), in order that the Project achieves clean energy benefits while ensuring the necessary ocean protection.

Here's a key paragraph on the AERU rules:

While the Bush Administration finally, and belatedly, released draft AERU regulations in 2008, those draft rules contained some fundamental flaws that should be corrected before the final rules are released. We recommend that the controversial alternative uses section of the regulations be put on hold while the renewable energy development section proceeds ahead swiftly. We further recommend the renewable energy regulations address key concerns reflected in the public record, including: (1) the inequitable proposed requirement for renewable energy projects to fund their environmental reviews, in a departure from longstanding practice with respect to oil and gas projects on the OCS; (2) the need to more meaningfully address adaptive management, including by establishing best practices for handling any unanticipated project impacts; and (3) the need to ensure adequate environmental review at all project stages.