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Offshore Cape Wind project clears federal environmental review

Cape Wind would be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., capable of supplying 75 percent of the electricity to Cape Cod.

Cape Wind, a controversial project to build a huge wind farm in Nantucket Sound, passed an environmental review from a federal agency, bringing the U.S.'s first offshore wind project closer to reality.

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Mineral Management Service did a review of the potential impact of the installation, which would be five miles off shore, as part of the permitting process.

The study (click here for PDF) concluded that the effects on the natural ecosystem, when properly managed, were not sufficient to hold up the project.

The project calls for 130 very large turbines capable of generating 420 megawatts of electricity to be placed offshore between Cape Cod and Nantucket island to the south. Backers say it will provide 75 percent of the electricity needs of Cape Cod.

Location of proposed offshore wind farm. Cape Wind

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, an advocate of clean energy policy, supports the project. But former governor Mitt Romney and Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy, whose family compound would have a view of the wind farm, oppose it, fearing the turbines would hurt tourism and property values.

Local groups in Cape Cod have formed to oppose the project. Concerns over the potentially harmful impact to birds and bats led to environmental group the Audubon Society to call for detailed studies.

For more, read this Boston Globe article.