The Mineral Management Service’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Cape Wind project is just out, and so far looks very positive, finding no environmental reasons to halt the project as it is envisioned.

On a conference call this afternoon, a spokesman for Cape Wind stated that “any rational observer reading this report” will deduce that this project will not produce adverse environmental impacts. The devil is in the details, of course, and he acknowledged that this has been a “long hard road” but that there is a sense of accomplishment at Cape Wind that the project has helped catalyze a national conversation on the topic of offshore wind (which he notes has a potential of 900,000 MW … a very significant renewable energy resource — not that his company feels we should go about developing it all, he noted).

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He went on to say that the nation’s first offshore wind farm must be subject to rigorous review, but that the positive DEIS now adds to the weight of evidence from previous positive findings of various state studies and the Army Corps of Engineers. Cape Wind anticipates this to be the final year of permitting, with further public hearings in March. He called it the “right project in the right place at the right time,” and if all goes smoothly, the earliest beginning of construction will be 2010 or 2011, coming online with power in 2011 at the earliest.

And in a nod to the Gristmill, one would like to think, he went out of his way to note that offshore wind would be great for powering up plug-in hybrids at night.

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