BOSTON – The winds off Cape Cod, Mass., are some of the strongest in the country — and now they're blowing a storm of controversy.
Developers have proposed trying to harness these mighty winds for energy by building a 170-turbine wind farm that could power half the homes on the Cape, but opponents say this would destroy their scenic views.
"Every time we turn on the light, we send a signal to a power plant to burn more fossil fuel, which we know is damaging our environment, damaging human health, damaging wildlife," said Mark Rodgers of the Cape Wind Associates.
"Every year we would offset more than a million tons of carbon dioxide from this," he said.
But there is vocal opposition to the wind farm from an unlikely source — environmentalists.
"I think most of the people who come to the Cape and who live here and love the area love it for its natural beauty," said John Donelan of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.
Donelan is part of a group of environmentalists and Cape Cod residents who do not want to see wind turbines on their horizon. They've even created a mock-up picture of how their view would be disturbed.
"It's taking a currently pristine natural area and turning it into a power plant," Donelan said.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound says they're not opposed to wind farms. They'd just like to be able to tell the developers where to put them.
Those in favor of building wind farms around the country say environmentalists want it both ways — clean energy and pretty scenery.
"Would they rather have a large coal facility on the edge of town spreading all kinds of mercury and coal dust?" Jaime Steve of the American Wind Energy Association asked. "Or would they rather have non-polluting windmills?"
Opponents say it's not just Cape Cod that's in danger of having wind farms spread like wildfire.
"There really are no guidelines to cover the placement of them," Donelan said. "Developers can put them in the Everglades or Yosemite or on the rim of the Grand Canyon."