Good Neighbor Agreement Is Not A Good One For Nantucket

Val Oliver •

To the editor: I am struggling to understand why none of our Nantucket leaders attended this week’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s meeting. BOEM invited Nantucket, as a Consulting Party, to attend and make public comments with respect to the Vineyard NorthEast offshore wind project that is planned off our coast. It is unconscionable that no one in leadership is advocating for Nantucket and our residents in any way with respect to this project. As stakeholders who have a great deal to lose environmentally, historically, and economically, we must have a voice at the table.

Everyone needs to consider the big picture of what is proposed off our Island: Vineyard NorthEast, along with 8 other projects, at buildout will include 1400 massive turbines that collectively assume more area than the entire state of Rhode Island.

As stakeholders, the rights of Nantucket’s residents and business owners are not being protected. The documents provided by the US Government Agencies are clear: The Vineyard Offshore projects will have a major impact on a National Historic Landmark: Nantucket, Muskeget and Tuckernuck Islands.

Unfortunately, it appears the Good Neighbor Agreement that was signed, without the public being informed or engaged, essentially says those major impacts are “Alright with Nantucket, we support those projects, and that money is a good enough mitigation.” But the GNA prevents our leaders from advocating for Nantucket with respect to any of the future VW projects. It seems the agreement gives Vineyard Offshore the flexibility to do whatever it wants for these projects and unfortunately mandates that Nantucket support them.

Despite the Town’s understanding that the agreement prevents them from advocating for our Island, it is my understanding that an agreement that requires all Nantucket Boards, Commissions and Councils to support future projects like this is illegal and not in the public interest. 

Let us remember that the Select Board’s obligation is to serve the public’s interest, and bargaining away the right to scrutinize future projects is antithetical to that duty. It would seem to follow that the Town in general should be under that same obligation.

It is a disgrace that we were advised not to comment on this pending project when the turbines for Vineyard Northeast will be 50% taller than what we are seeing for the Vineyard Wind 1 project being built right now.

The new turbines will stand more than 1300 ft above sea level. When the GNA was signed in 2020, the Construction and Operations Plan stated that the turbines would be 853 ft in height…enormously tall machines, as we can readily see for ourselves. Imagine what 1300 ft turbines will look like? Vineyard Offshore certainly isn’t interested in mitigating its major visual impacts on Nantucket, and we are doing nothing about it except taking money and publicly supporting them.

The reality is, the Agreement is not a good one for Nantucket:

- According to the press release last November, the dollars received by Nantucket and two private organizations don’t add up to the $4 million that was promised in the Agreement.

- The height of the turbines is much taller than what was initially conveyed to the public. 1300 ft tall turbines are incredibly massive and incredibly destructive to the environment.

- The average price of energy for MA has been around $30/ Megawatt hour for the last year…do you all know that the VW 1 project is guaranteed a minimum of $89 / Megawatt hour? What will this do to our energy bills? I don’t think they will decrease, which is what we were told.

- The environmental damage that will result by Vineyard Offshore’s own described construction processes are decimating our seabed with trenching, drilling, pile driving and cable laying. How about the ongoing vessel traffic for 30 years from not one, but the 9 total projects planned off our coast? Imagine what this will do to marine life and avian life and the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. How does any of this benefit Nantucket? Nantucket is carrying a heavy burden and clearly receiving none of the benefit.

Given the lack of alarm by our Town leaders, my guess is that perhaps no one has read the Environmental Impact Statements, or the Construction and Operations plans for these projects. I have and there is no data in those documents that demonstrate how these projects will combat climate change, enhance coastal resiliency, or protect, restore, and preserve cultural and historic resources. Shockingly, any data that might contain real answers, likely not positive, are redacted.

Please, get involved and help Nantucket by pushing back on these projects. Please read the documents provided on the BOEM website for yourselves so that you understand what is involved firsthand. Many other municipalities and organizations are gearing up, fighting back, and protecting their resources. It’s time Nantucket does the same. Vote "YES" to Articles 77 and 78 at the Town Meeting on May 7th. Give Nantucket a voice and a seat at the table.

Val Oliver

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