Air America Host Kennedy's Nondisclosure Angers Many
NYT Op-Ed Angers Liberals, Conservatives
Who now is burning up inside the "Ring Of Fire"? After a major slip-up in yesterday's New York Times, Robert F Kennedy Jr. may be wondering why he gave that unfortunate name to his Air America Radio program.
After all, in such a forceful, high-profile denunciation of the proposed Cape Wind power project in Cape Cod, Mass., wouldn't it be proper to point out the Kennedy family's clear conflict of interest? Shouldn't readers know the proposed wind farm project would sit directly facing their Hyannisport compound, several miles out to sea?
While supporters are made up of both liberals and conservatives, especially interesting is that some of Cape Wind's most outspoken opponents are shorefront property owning-liberals. Noisiest of all have been Kennedy family members.
Right off the bat, Kennedy brings a false analogy to his NYT argument:
AS an environmentalist, I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many. But I do believe that some places should be off limits to any sort of industrial development. I wouldn't build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park. Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project.
Environmental groups have been enticed by Cape Wind, but they should be wary of lending support to energy companies that are trying to privatize the commons - in this case 24 square miles of a heavily used waterway. And because offshore wind costs twice as much as gas-fired electricity and significantly more than onshore wind, the project is financially feasible only because the federal and state governments have promised $241 million in subsidies.
As Jack Coleman, longtime Cape Cod newspaper contributor, notes:
"But I do believe that some places should be off limits to any sort of industrial development," Kennedy writes. "I wouldn't build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park" (actually, that would be illegal, unlike what Cape Wind proposes). "Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project."
Only two paragraphs in, how does Kennedy describe Nantucket Sound - as a "heavily used waterway." Got that? Not this "pristine jewel" or "cherished national treasure" or any of the overwrought labels routinely trotted out by opponents.
Kennedy elaborates on this - he goes on to describe Nantucket Sound as "among the most densely traveled boating corridors in the Atlantic." As such, Cape Wind's turbines would come "perilously close to the main navigation channels for cargo ships, ferries and fishing boats."
The project would also come "perilously close" to the Kennedy compound, although no mention of this is made in the column. Perhaps Kennedy, shown above in a photo I took during the Soundkeeper sail organized by the Alliance last August, assumes it is universally known and needs no elaboration. I beg to differ - that his extended family would be abutters could hardly be more relevant.
After Massachusetts residents got "wind" of RFK's disingenuous editorial, it created a real controversy in the Bay State. From Jay Fitzgerald in today's Boston Herald:
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stirred up a storm of controversy yesterday by escalating his attacks on a proposed wind farm off of Cape Cod - without mentioning how his family’s famous vacation compound might be impacted by the facility.
Kennedy, an outspoken environmentalist on most earthy issues, wrote in an op-ed piece in the New York Times that the proposal by Cape Wind Associates to build 130 offshore wind turbines was nothing more than a government-subsidized industrial boondoggle.
Kennedy, who was confronted by Greenpeace last summer when he toured the Sound in a boat with a group opposing the project, said the windmills will cause too much noise, harm marine life and threaten fishermen’s livelihoods. Greenpeace supports the project.
Deep-water wind-turbine technology is improving - and Cape Wind should be pushed farther off shore, he added.
What he didn’t mention was how his family has long vacationed on the Cape, at the famous Kennedy Compound in Hyannis - only six miles from where the offshore wind farm would be located.
Environmental groups, who are now portraying Kennedy as a virtual traitor in the fight against global warming, took note of that omission.
“This is an unfortunate case of NIMBYism,” said Matt Palmer, executive director of Hyannis-based Clean Power Now, referring to the antidevelopment acronym for Not In My Back Yard.
In an interview with the Herald, Kennedy said he doesn’t own property on the Cape - only his relatives do. But he added he thinks “people should fight to protect their back yards,” noting he has opposed developments near his own New York home in the past.
Sure enough, Robert, but everyone knows your entire extended family uses the compound. Can you honestly say you never visit Hyannis?
Why do conservatives such as Coleman and myself support Cape Wind? Because the region has a critical need for additional power generation and there's no better way to increase capacity. Without Cape Wind, future blackouts become far more likely.
Perhaps Kennedy should stick to writing Air America fundraising letters and stay out of debates where he can so clearly be exposed as a phony.
Meanwhile, it might be time to rename that talk show "Ring Of Hypocrisy".
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Images: Cape Cod Today, Boston Herald