US backing of wind farm could come this week

The Bush administration is expected to issue as early as Friday a favorable final environmental review of the nation's first offshore wind farm project, clearing the way for Cape Wind to obtain a federal lease to erect 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound.

Nicholas Pardi, a spokesman for the Minerals Management Service, said last week that the agency, part of the Interior Department, is planning to release its findings "by the end of the year." Supporters of the project who have been told of the agency's timetable said a favorable review should come in the next few weeks and possibly on Dec. 5.  Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne would then have to wait 30 days to make the decision official and award the lease allowing the project to be located in federal waters. The supporters, as well the leader of the main opposition group, said they believe the administration wants this accomplished before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

Final state backing could follow early next year, said a spokesman for the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, culminating the developer's long struggle to gain approval for what seemed like a green power pipe dream when it was announced seven years ago: A giant wind farm anchored in the waters off Cape Cod.  "This is important not only for Massachusetts but for the nation as a whole," said Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations for Mass Audubon, a conservation group that came out in support of the project after evaluating its impact on wildlife.Click here to read this Boston Globe article