Windbag meets windmills

Terry Jeffrey
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Posted: Mar 17, 2004 12:00 AM

Is John Kerry willing to increase the odds that U.S. troops will have to fight another Middle Eastern war just to preserve the pristine view from the millionaires' mansions along Nantucket Sound?

If you were to apply Kerry's alarmist campaign rhetoric about energy policy to his own actions in regard to energy production, the conclusion would be: Yes, he is.

But Kerry's not a warmonger; he's just a windbag. And never was this more apparent than when his environmentally correct energy policy ran aground on Horseshoe Shoal -- where a company specializing in clean energy production would like to build a windmill farm in the very body of water that sits between Kerry's home on Nantucket and the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport.

Here lies a dilemma that tries Kerry's soul.

In stump speeches, Kerry argues that unless America weans itself from foreign petroleum and develops renewable energy sources, American troops may have to die in the Middle East to protect our oil supply.

Last March, he said: "(I)n decades to come, we should not have to send young people into battle to defend and die for America's gluttony for fossil fuel."

In October, he vowed: "I bring to this fight the clear and absolute concept that our party needs to stand up and make it clear, on behalf of future generations, on behalf of common sense, that no young American in uniform, man or woman, ought to ever, ever be held hostage to America's dependency on fossil fuel oil from the Middle East."

Kerry, accordingly, has proposed "a new Manhattan Project to make America independent of Middle East oil."

In January, he explained part of the plan in Vinton, Iowa. "I'm setting a goal for America," he said. "By the year 2020, 20 percent of our electricity is going to be produced by alternative and renewable fuels. And a lot of that is going to come out of Iowa."

Listing ways to improve the "quality of life of the rural community," Kerry said: "Wind farms, obviously, is one other thing."

But, it turns out, not for Nantucket.

Energy Management Inc., a Massachusetts company, has been working since 2001 on its plan for an offshore wind farm in New England, a plan being reviewed by 17 government agencies. "We weren't interested in some token, feel-good project that didn't make a difference," said Mark Rodgers, communications director for EMI's Cape Wind project. "We wanted to try to bring on utility-scale renewable power."

The company needed a site that had strong winds, shallow water and low waves. One place had all three: Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. As a bonus, said Rodgers, the site also was "outside the ferry routes, outside the shipping lanes, and outside the flight paths."

Rodgers refused to comment about Kerry's position on the project.

But for the politically minded, Cape Wind also seems a perfect match for Kerry's energy plan. If completed, it will provide, on average, three quarters of the power consumed on Cape Cod and the nearby islands.

Today, the closest energy source to Kerry's Nantucket home and the Kennedys' Hyannisport compound is an oil burning plant at Sandwich, Mass. Last April, a barge bringing fuel to that plant ruptured, spilling from 35,000 to 55,000 gallons of oil into a bay off the Cape. Birds were killed, shellfish beds closed.

With Cape Wind, the Kennedys and Kerrys could light up their lives with clean renewable wind-power instead of dirty fossil-fuel power. The risk to U.S. troops -- as envisioned by Kerry's stump speeches -- would be diminished.

But Cape Wind has a one big drawback for Massachusetts liberals: It's not in Iowa. You would actually see it from some mansions along Nantucket Sound.

Sen. Ted Kennedy won't have it. He's flatly opposed. But he's not running for president on a wind-farm platform.

In December, in New Hampshire, when asked his position on wind power, Kerry brought up Cape Wind. "I am in favor of wind power, and I think we ought to find a place that is appropriate off the coast of New England to build some wind power," the Manchester Union-Leader reported him saying. "The question is, what is the site process going to be? You can't just allow anybody to go build one anywhere they want without some kind of process."

Despite his plan to make 20 percent of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, Kerry apparently intends to make it harder, not easier, to build wind farms.

And just as he might have been for some war to oust Saddam, but not the one America fought, so he is for a New England wind farm, but not necessarily the one they would build in his backyard.