Top of Mind: Jim Gordon, Extended Version

By James Burnett | Boston Magazine |


JB:
Did you anticipate all the resistance it would face?

JG: There’s always going to be some opposition. What we’ve done is gone out in the community; we’ve conducted forums in schools and in civic organizations. We’ve talked to proponents, opponents, and stakeholders. We did a lot of education, trying to educate people: "Look, here’s what this project is all about; here’s why we think it’s a good idea. But you know, we’re going to go through this very comprehensive and rigorous permitting process where 17 federal and state agencies are going to scrutinize every aspect of this project. At the end of the day, if the benefits of this project don’t outweigh the impacts, the projects will not go forward. Let’s keep an open mind."

Most of the folks on the Cape and Islands entered the dialogue in that spirit. They saw that the project had possibilities and they wanted to see whether it would successfully pass through the regulatory process. Yet there was another group that basically before the ink was dry on the proposal created an opposition group. Over the ensuing years, they would spend millions of dollars trying to block this project.

…The most overriding environmental threat to the Cape and Islands is climate change. We’re talking about a low-lying community. We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change, rising sea levels, more intense and frequent hurricanes and storms, warming ocean temperatures that will impact fish species, acidification of Nantucket Sound. …There’s a sad irony here that the "not in my backyard crowd" is fighting a project that is actually going to help mitigate some of these threats.

If you look at any major infrastructure project in Massachusetts or New England, it’s not uncommon to have opposition to it, whether you’re developing a football stadium or an art museum on Memorial Drive. We have an active democracy and citizen participation. The important thing is, if you look at the project now, independent public opinion polls show that 86 percent of Massachusetts citizens want Cape Wind built.

JB: Has this process taken longer than expected? For nine years, it’s been going on.

JG:
Yes, it’s been longer than expected. But we believed in our hearts that this project was in the right place, at the right time…not only because it’s going to establish Massachusetts as a worldwide leader in offshore renewable energy, but also because it can inspire other communities to look at their offshore wind resources and develop them. And that’s already happening: Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, the Carolinas.

…The Department of Energy and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative have validated that there is over 900,000 megawatts of offshore wind resources blowing within five to 50 miles of our coast. To put that into perspective, the total installed electric generation capacity in the United States is about 950,000 megawatts. I’m not sitting here trying to tell you that offshore wind is going to replace all the electric generation capacity in the United States, but it can become a significant component of our energy future….

  • Cliff

    This feel good story is missing the ugly truth. Majority of Cape and Islands is against. The Wampanoag Tribes have filed a Federal objection to protect their burial grounds. The FAA has issued a PRESUMED HAZARD on the project. Mass Historical objects. USCG has told the Mass Fisherman’s Partnership they will be kicked out once the industrial plant is built. The MMS report states that this electricity will cost twice what we pay to produce, and that is after the $70,000,000 plus in federal and state tax subsidies. There is a 40,000 gallon, ten story transformer filled with toxic oil in the middle of this project. Cape Winds OIL SPILL ANALYSIS states that there is greater than 90% chance the Cape and Islands will get hit with an oil spill in the event of a rupture. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is against the project. The Town of Barnstable and the Cape Cod Commission are suing the State to stop this project. Only 5 miles off the beaches, it is the size of the island of Manhattan New

  • Cliff

    This project will endanger millions of passengers a year that pass through these foggy waterways and air routes. The NPVA, Steamship Authority and Hy-line Cruise lines object to this project being placed in the middle of three shipping channels. The 3 airports filed appeals with the FAA to protect the 400,000 flights a year in this airspace. The FAA has confirmed radar interference and issued a “Presumed Hazard”. In the 8 years that this highly conflicted site has been fought, new technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and deep water floating wind platforms have been invented. Just like the Hindenburg, once considered the future of air travel, Cape Wind’s technology is already a dinosaur. Nantucket Sound, our beaches are the heart and soul, the economic engine that is what makes the Cape and Islands such a unique place to get away from the industrialized world we live in. It is not the place to build a 44 story, 24 square mile industrial plant. The millions of dollars this private d

  • Hans

    Good interview and a very human angle to a story that needs to be told. Let the naysayers keep talking. It is just a great pity that these folks never have learned to listen.

  • Soren

    My response to Cliff on his long comments of untrue statements shall be some facts from an off shore wind farm in another part of the world with very similar geographical conditions as Cape Cod and Nantucket Sound.
    Only 1.3 miles from Copenhagen in Denmark a 20 turbine wind farm producing 40 MW or 90 million KWh/yr has been in operation since 2000. It is close to a very busy shipping strait between Denmark and Sweden and within a few miles from Copenhagen's large international airport. The wind mills sits in 10 to 16 ft of water providing 3 % of the electricity for Copenhagen. Today more than 6,000 wind turbines in Denmark provide 20% of the energy expected to rise to 50% in 2030.
    Denmark has 5.5 million people similar to MA and is 16.500 sqmiles (MA is 8,300 sqm) Denmarks coastline is 1,000 miles (compared to 200 miles for MA.) and most of it is used for recreational use (a lot of sailing) and tourism. The country is flat and with similar vegetation and soil as Cape Cod.
    Two more

  • Soren

    Two more off shore wind farms are also in operation and three more are being planned. Denmark today gets 20% of electrical energy from windmills, 6,000 plus of them. In 2030 the wind mills are expected to cover 50%. Europe has installed 65% of worlds MW wind turbines. United States 15%. Wind technology is growing with 30%/yr
    So to all people in Cape Cod and the rest of MA wind turbine technology as alternative energy is growing and growing and growing and the way to go. Make a trip to Denmark and see for yourself

  • Peter

    The area Cape Wind wants to use is the center of Nantucket Sound. Boaters do not avoid it, they crowd into it. And, the ferries often tack into these waters in bad weather to avoid being broadside to wind and waves. Both the steamship Auithority and the private ferry operator oppose this project for safety reasons. Tell the truth, Jim.