Massachusetts Ocean Task Force Hears Mostly About Wind
The Massachusetts Ocean Management Task Force has been attempting to create a comprehensive plan for use of state waters - but its efforts at a broad plan have been complicated by the public's more narrow focus on one issue: the Cape Wind Farm. As reported in State ocean management group gets an earful
, Evan J. Albright Barnstable Patriot
, (12/19/03), the Task Force released a preliminary list of Draft Principles
which would serve as the basis for future ocean management laws and policies. But at the first of five scheduled public hearings, the audience's comments primarily concerned the Cape Wind project, notwithstanding Task Co-Chair Jim Hunt's statements that the task force's goals were not to examine specific projects or to address matters involving federal waters (where the Cape Wind turbines will be located).
The audience was "equal opportunity" in ignoring Hunt's efforts to limit the scope of the meeting. Although backers of the wind farm project said the task force meeting was not the appropriate forum for discussing it, they also said that if the Task Force Report mentioned Cape Wind then it should include recommendations and principles promoting such projects. Those who opposed the wind farm believed that it was incumbent upon the task force to recommend "closing the doughnut" and thereby encourage the state to seek control over the project.
As for other criticism of the Task Force report, Steve Tucker, a coastal resources specialist quesitoned how the recommendations would be implemented while Patrick Paquette, president of the Massachusetts Striped Bass Coalition and a member of several other organizations devoted to recreational fishermen, criticized the report as being guided by insiders rather than the public. He also complained that the public comment period fell far short of the 90 days typically provided by state law for review of new rules and practices.