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Secretary Ken Salazar Lied About Cape Wind

Updated on October 21, 2010

Salazar Lied on the Record

April 28 of 2010 was a big day in Boston, for that matter everywhere in this country. Ken Salazar stood at the microphone with Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts grinning behind him. There were lights, cameras, dignitaries and reporters of all stripes packed into the State House to hear Salazar announce his decision about whether or not to approve the Cape Wind project. Most of us already knew, or thought we could predict, what the man from Colorado would say.

Eight days earlier the largest ever oil drilling disaster had happened in the Gulf of Mexico when BP's Deepwater Horizon rig blew out. Salazar desperately needed to deflect attention from that disaster, to save face for himself and his entire agency. As we now know, BP received approval for the deepest ever drilling operation from Salazar's Minerals Management Service (MMS - an operating unit within Department of Interior) in spite of inspections that were never performed and safety concerns well known long before the blow out started fouling the Gulf of Mexico with millions of gallons of crude oil. A specific exemption had allowed BP to receive its final approval based on seventy-five page document combining their application description and safety plan. Salazar was the Interior Secretary on whose watch this was allowed to happen. He needed to distract people from his role in the Deepwater Horizon nightmare. He needed to shed his new nickname, Slick.

Cape Wind was the perfect ploy and he milked it for all it was worth on that early spring day in Boston. The problem is; Salazar lied. He made claims that might very well represent material defects in the Record of Decision (ROD) which he issued on that day.

Salazar said that he was approving Cape Wind but imposing conditions. The official press release issued by Department of Interior (DOI) is still available on the DOI website. It describes Salazar's decision in five pages. In paragraph 5 on page two it says, "Salazar emphasized the Department has taken extraordinary steps to fully evaluate Cape Wind's potential impacts on traditional cultural resources and historic properties....." The press release says that DOI worked with the two affected tribes, the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag and, "....carefully considered their views and concerns."

Interestingly, the actual ROD admits that the consultation process with the tribes is not yet completed. And, the federal body charged with reviewing such projects in terms of their architectural, archeological and historic impacts recommended in very strong terms denying Cape Wind's application. Actually, Salazar carefully avoided dealing with the tribes' concerns.

But, here is the most amazing statement of all; paragraph 6 on page 2 (in its entirety): "Because of concerns expressed during the consultations, Interior has required the developer to change the design and configuration of the wind turbine farm to diminish the visual effects of the project and to conduct additional seabed surveys to ensure that any submerged archeologocal resources are protected prior to bottom disturbing activities."

These lines from paragraph 7 are incredible: "Under these revisions, the number of turbines has been reduced from 170 to 130, eliminating turbines to reduce the visual impacts from the Kennedy Compound Historic Landmark; reconfiguring the array to move it farther away from Nantucket Island; and reducing its breadth to mitigate visibility from the Nantucket Historic District."

Here are the facts of the Cape Wind array's design and the number of turbines it contains. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was the federal agency charged with reviewing Cape Wind's application until a change in federal law in 2005 transferred that authority to MMS. The original project specification submitted to MMS by Cape Wind Associates, LLC in the fall of 2005 clearly decsribes the project's footprint as approved by Salazar in April of 2010. There was no change in the layout or size of the project as Salazar proclaimed. And, that same application by Cape Wind Associates, LLC to MMS in the fall of 2005 clearly specifies 130 turbines rated at 3.6MW each. Salazar changed nothing....nothing. His only substantive change was what he did to the truth, to reality.

Section 2.2.2 of the MMS Cape Wind Draft Environmental Impact Statement, issued in January of 2008, twelve months before then Senator Salazar was installed as Secretary of Interior, clearly spells out the area of the array and the number of turbines, 130. The MMS Cape Wind Final Environmental Impact Statement was issued in January of 2009, the same month when Salazar took over at Interior, announcing, "There is a new sheriff in town." The facts are very clear, Sheriff Salazar; the Cape Wind project was fully designed long before you became involved. You simply lied to the American people. Cape Wind Associates, LLC voluntarily reduced the number of turbines from 17- to 130 in 2003 when they changed the turbine selection from a Vestas unit to a much larger unit made by G.E. And, they altered the array's layout and area to avoid being in Massachusetts state waters, possibly for tax and regulatory reasons...in 2003! You lied about that, too.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has testified before the Massachusetts DPU that Cape Wind will cost $2.5 billion to build. The DOI press release announcing Salazar's decision claimed a capital cost of $1 billion (page one, paragraph 1); another outright lie. Then there is the often heard beauty that Cape Cod will receive 75% of its electricity from Cape Wind (paragraph 3 found at the top of page two). Once Ken gets going he is hard to stop. He obviously knows that the Boston Globe will never print opposing facts.

Now that the actual costs of the Cape Wind project are known it appears that MMS and DOI and Salazar have told a few other whoppers. The savings long claimed by Jim Gordon, Cape Wind's Machiavellian CEO, are now seen as actual increases in all classes of electricity but only for National Grid's customers in Massachusetts, including none on Cape Cod.

Some perspective on Ken Salazar: He is the man who personally oversaw the department that allowed BP to begin the deepest oil drilling operation ever without proper oversight. Then, as things heated up in the press and oil flowed towards the shores of three Gulf states he did the courageous thing and fired Liz Birnbaum, his personal appointee to head MMS, the agency within DOI directly responsible for offshore drilling permitting and oversight. But, Birnbaum had been in office only since the summer of 2009, long after the BP die had been cast. Ken Salazar is apparently as loyal as he is honest.

Now we shall see how many of the Cape Wind press flacks, such as the Boston Globe, pick up on the news that Ken Salazar is a liar; that he has lied in his official capacity as Secretary of the Interior, that his lies will forever marr the viewshed of Nantucket Sound, that his lies will cost Massachusetts electric customers hundreds of millions of dollars and make Massachusetts less competitive in the development or retention of jobs, and on and on.

Of course, one can also wonder about the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and their utter failure to challenge Salazar on his lies. Where have their lawyers been? Where are the deeply connected political forces of Perkins Coie after their millions of dollars in fees? All they would need is basic knowledge of the Cape Wind story plus Salazar's own words and some integrity or courage and by making a public stink about this outrage they would force Robert Bauer, their own former managing partner for political stuff to respond in behalf of his new client, President Barrack Obama. Also, where is that Boston spin firm, O'Neil Associates when they are most needed? After all, the CEO, Thomas P. O'Neil, Jr. is the son of the late Tip O'Neil, legendary former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shouldn't he have some clout somewhere? How about in Washington, D. C.? This firm is the official mouthpiece of the Alliance and Tip famously said, "All politics is local." Was Junior listening?

Pretty local, Nantucket Sound. Take your pick for today's favorite gripe: Ken Salazar, liar extraordinaire; the Alliance To protect Nantucket Sound, incompetents without peer; or Perkins Coie, the attorneys to call when failure is the only - in fact - desired option. Imagine, the greatest lies in the entire Cape Wind saga have not been told by Jim Gordon but by the United States Secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, and no one has challenged him based on the clear and very public record.

Welcome to Wayne's world.

COPYRIGHT 2010 By Peter A. Kenney

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