Clean energy meets serious opposition in this partisan account of an effort to harvest wind power off the coast of Nantucket.
Windmills placed in the waters around Cape Cod might seem like a good way to supplement the power supply for New England, an area with high energy costs as well as a history of waters poisoned by petroleum spills and air polluted by smokestacks. But when entrepreneur Jim Gordon proposed to build a field of wind turbines five miles from the shores of Nantucket and its ritzy summer homes, NIMBY fury burst forth. It would be bad for the birds and the whales, said local yachtsmen, unsupported by facts. The core objection of celebrity opponents like historian David McCullough was that Cape Wind would be “visual pollution,” an unwelcome blot on the seascapes enjoyed from their verandahs or boats. Investigative journalist Williams and Providence Journal editor Whitcomb rake some fine muck to conclude that, “money and corrupt government officials are hijacking our nation’s economic and environmental future.” From the start, their sympathies are clear: The heroes striving to build Cape Wind talk straight; the bad guys trying to block it rave and fulminate. Although the authors conscientiously explain the technology involved, their main focus is on the maelstrom of money and politics in which an entrenched elite wielded undue power against a clean energy source. The battle over Cape Wind was fought through town meetings, state government, courtrooms and across party lines in the U.S. Congress; Governor Mitt Romney and some of the Kennedy clan were among the major players. The book ends, but the story is not over. More than five years after they were first proposed, the Cape Wind turbines are not yet built, but neither is the project dead.
A caustic, subjective sociological case study.