BOSTON – Six Northeast governors urged the U.S. Department of the Interior’s chief executive on Friday to ignore a historical council’s advice that he stop a wind farm from being built off Cape Cod, saying that such a move could end offshore wind development on the Eastern Seaboard.

The governors’ letter was in response to a recommendation by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Properties. The council called for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to deny the proposal for the 130-turbine Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.

The council cited, in part, Cape Wind’s “destructive” effects on the views from dozens of nearby historic properties, including the Kennedy family compound.

But the governors argued that if Salazar accepts the council’s reasoning, it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to site offshore wind projects anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard” because so many offshore wind farm sites are visible from historic properties.

The letter was signed by Govs. Jack Markell of Delaware, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Chris Christie of New Jersey, David Paterson of New York and Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island.

“It’s the first time, governors of other states … have come off the sidelines, relative to some of the different decisions made in the Cape Wind project,” said Massachusetts Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. “It underscores that the historic preservation agencies have really overreached in terms of their reactions to this project.”

A spokesman for the advisory council said he had no comment. The Interior Department is reviewing the letter, a spokeswoman said.

Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which opposes Cape Wind, called the letter a “political maneuver” that ignores Cape Wind’s negative effects on the local economy, environment and history.

“The (advisory council’s) decision does not stand in the way of future offshore wind development,” Parker said. “Rather, it demands that the process of wind development also respect our nation’s historic treasures.”

Cape Wind opponents want the wind farm moved out of Nantucket Sound, saying it threatens animal life and maritime traffic and would deface historic vistas.

Salazar has said he will decide about Cape Wind by next Friday. The project, now in its ninth year of review, would be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Its developers say it could generate electricity by 2012 and eventually supply three-quarters of Cape Cod’s power.

Other major offshore wind proposals include NRG Bluewater Wind projects in New Jersey and Delaware and a Deepwater Wind project in Rhode Island. No other project has entered the lengthy federal review that Cape Wind has nearly completed.


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