Prior to start of construction, the Cape Wind project is being subject to a comprehensive environmental review process. This process ensures that any environmental impact of the wind park's construction and operation is carefully studied and that all interested parties have an opportunity to make their comments heard. Cape Wind's permit application for a renewable wind energy project is undergoing a more rigorous and comprehensive review from federal and state agencies than was ever required of any of the region's coal, oil or gas power plants.
Cape Wind is undergoing a rigorous review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be submitted. The project is also being reviewed under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) which requires an Environmental Impact Review (EIR) and the Cape Cod Commission's Development of Regional Impact (DRI) process. The "scope of work" required for the combined EIS/EIR/DRI was laid out by the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), the former* lead agency reviewing the project, in their scoping document (read the ACOE's scoping document - pdf format) and in the MEPA certificate on the Environmental Notification Form (ENF) submitted by Cape Wind in November of 2001 (read the MEPA certificate on the ENF - pdf format). The "scope of work" incorporated input received from sixteen participating government agencies and from comments received from the general public.
*As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress authorized the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of Interior to grant easements in Federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf to commercial offshore wind energy devolpments. MMS is taking over the review from the Army Corps of Engineers and designing a lease structure for offshore wind projects. The project will continue to be reviewed under NEPA and the EIS process is moving forward. Learn more about the MMS permitting process here.
In accordance with the federal permitting agencies, studies of the proposed site and project, include, but are not limited to:
- Avian Species (i.e. Wintering seaducks, migrating species, endangered and protected species)
- Marine Mammals
- Benthic Infauna and Shellfish Resources
- Essential Fish Habitat
- Commercial and Recreational Fisheries
- Air and Water Quality
- Visual Impact
- Noise Assessment
- Alternative Site Analysis
- Marine Archaeological and Cultural Resources
- Air and Sea Navigation
- Local Meteorological Conditions
- Sediment Transport Patterns
- Local Geological Conditions
- Economic Impacts
The 3,800 page Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
In November of 2004 the Army Corps of Engineers released the combined Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), and Development of Regional Impact (DRI). The 3,800 page DEIS/DEIR/DRI shows that Cape Wind will produce compelling public benefits with positive environmental and economic impacts.
Learn more about the results of these studies and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
Notable findings in the DEIS (pdf)
Executive summary of the DEIS (pdf)
Full DEIS on the Army Corps' website
Cape Wind's press release on the release of the DEIS
For the last four years, ESS Group, Inc. the lead consulting firm on the Cape Wind project has led a group of engineers, geologists, marine biologists, meteorologists, avian consultants and environmental scientists in carefully analyzing all aspects of this project. The research done for the Cape Wind project provides more data about the environment on and around Horseshoe Shoal and Nantucket Sound than has ever existed before. Once the environmental impact process has been completed, federal and state permitting agencies will make their permitting decisions. By law, the standard they will invoke to make the permitting decision is the Public Interest doctrine - they will only grant a permit to Cape Wind if they find, after weighing every impact, the Cape Wind project is in the public interest.
Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB)
The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) is the regulatory agency responsible for reviewing and permitting the two 18-mile, 115 kilovolt underground electric transmission lines that will bring the wind farmís electricity onto shore to connect into the existing electric grid. In July, 2004 the EFSB staff issued a very positive Tentative Decision recommending that the board approve Cape Windís cable application. In May of 2005, after a 32-month adjudicatory process that included 2,900 pages of transcripts and 932 exhibits, the EFSB approved the interconnection of the cables to the electric transmission system in Massachusetts.
Our press release on the EFSB ruling
EFSB staffís Final Decision (pdf)
Scientific Monitoring Station
Cape Wind received a permit to erect a scientific monitoring station on Horseshoe Shoal on August 19, 2002. The permitting process for the data tower is separate from that of the wind farm. The US Army Corps of Engineers determined that the data tower will not pose a threat to marine and avian life in Nantucket Sound and that the tower will be an aid to navigation. Scientific instruments on the tower collect valuable meteorological data used in engineering and designing the wind farm. Cape Wind has shared this data with local academic and research institutions including Cape Cod Community College, the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and many others.
Learn more about the scientific monitoring station
See live data from the monitoring station