In response to petitions by two Massachusetts Indian tribes, the National Park Service (NPS) has determined that the site of the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, further delaying development of the nation’s first planned offshore wind farm. NPS found that Nantucket Sound, where the proposed 24 square-mile wind farm would be erected, is vital to the tribes’ cultural and religious practices. The tribes are concerned that the land beneath the Sound may contain submerged ancestral burial grounds and that the view across the Sound is a culturally significant vantage point for watching the rising sun and nighttime sky.
NPS’s decision will not prevent construction of the controversial wind farm, but it could result in significant delays and may help form a legal argument against the project by the tribes and other vocal opponents. In response to NPS’s decision, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pushed to move the project forward by ordering the NPS and the project's developer, Energy Management Inc., to negotiate and reach a compromise by March 1, 2010. Sec. Salazar, who has the authority to decide the project’s future himself, stated: “If an agreement among the parties can’t be reached, I will be prepared to take the steps necessary to bring the permit process to conclusion.” The New York Times provides additional coverage of this story.