WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kerry said today the Obama administration may render its verdict on a proposed wind farm off Cape Cod this week, and he will support it if Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar gives his approval.
The Massachusetts Democrat made the comments in Washington as Salazar prepared to announce a decision on the so-called Cape Wind project. They also came as Massachusetts Republicans accused Kerry of avoiding a position on the hot-button topic, criticism that ignored some prior Kerry statements on it.
“I have said this is the first siting of anywhere in the country, (so it’s) very important for the process to work its way forward,” the senator said. “I favor a wind project somewhere in Massachusetts, and I’ve said, again and again, if the process decides that this is the one that it should be, I support moving forward.”
He also said an Obama administration announcement about Cape Wind was possible this week.
Kerry’s longtime senior colleague, the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, staunchly opposed Cape Wind. It would build a series of 130 electricity-generating turbines across Nantucket Sound in the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
Kennedy used to sail in those waters, and he complained the 400-foot-tall turbines, spread over 25 miles of federal waters, would mar a pristine landscape.
Gov. Deval Patrick supports the project, a source of tension between him and Kennedy. The Democratic governor has argued that Cape Wind is part of state’s clean energy future and could give Massachusetts companies the lead in developing similar projects around the world.
Kerry was accused of dodging the question during his 2004 presidential campaign, when he windsurfed off Nantucket — where he has his vacation home — and was asked if he agreed with Kennedy about the project. But he said then as he does now that he wanted the regulatory review process to finish, and more recently has explained he will support whatever decision is forthcoming.
In 2008, he told The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass., “My view on Cape Wind is very simple. I’m all for wind power. If the EIS (environmental impact statement) comes back approving it, I’m all for it.”
Today, the Massachusetts Republican Party seized on several recent news reports accusing Kerry of remaining silent on the project.
“Given the amount of time John Kerry spends in Nantucket Sound, it’s truly astonishing that he has not found time to take a position on such an important issue,” party chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said in a statement.
The project has gone through a nine-year review. Advocates say it will provide up to three-quarters of the Cape’s power.
Critics, including Kennedy, have called it a special-interest giveaway.
Two Wampanoag Indian tribes also object to the project, saying it would destroy sacred rituals near Nantucket Sound and could disturb long-submerged tribal burial grounds.
President Barack Obama has pushed renewable energy, and the Democrat’s recent decision to expand offshore drilling indicates a willingness to tap ocean-based energy sources. But Obama, who was close to Kennedy, has never spoken publicly about Cape Wind.
The president is also close to Patrick and recently urged his re-election this fall.