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Sat, Jun 16, 2012

FAA Employees Noted Political Aspects Of Proposed Offshore Wind Farm

Internal Documents Note Disagreement About Mitigation Of Radar Interference From Wind Turbines

FAA documents obtained by opponents of a proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod seem to indicate disagreement about the best course of action for mitigating radar interference from the wind turbines, as well as perceived political pressure to approve the project.

That approval was overturned by an appeals court last year. The Associated Press reports that an e-mail sent by an unnamed engineer after that decision indicated that low-flying aircraft were in danger from the turbines when operating under VFR conditions.

The documents were obtained by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group strongly opposed to the Cape Wind project. Some internal memos show FAA staff referring to the project as "extremely" or "highly" political. One internal presentation reads "It would be very difficult politically to refuse approval of this project."

The FAA said that employee opinions expressed in internal documents do not represent the official position of the agency. The documents do not indicate that managers steered employees to specific findings based on politics. One said that an iron-clad, thorough response to the radar concerns was vital given congressional interest in the project.

Randy Babbitt, who was FAA administrator at the time the FAA approved the Cape Wind project, had at one time been an advisor to the group working against the program.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.saveoursound.org, www.capewind.org

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