Cape Wind Response Paper

The case that I am responding to in this paper revolves around the nearly 15 year dispute over an offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound called “Cape Wind.”[1]  The dispute is unique because its politics are not particularly partisan. Rather than being established around a party line, the fight over Cape Wind features multiple value systems each with opposing understandings on how a particular piece of land should be used. In this paper I conduct a value analysis on two of the major players in the Cape Wind case study, namely Jim Gordon and Ted Kennedy. Both of these stakeholders see the Nantucket Sound as a valuable natural resource.  A deeper understanding and analysis of the values that these individuals hold as well as further knowledge of their personal relationship with the land sheds light on why they each arrive at separate conclusions about the Cape’s role in the quest for alternative energy in America.

Jim Gordon is what Layzer calls an “energy entrepreneur.”[2] He searches for opportunities to develop and utilize alternative sources of energy in a way that is advantageous to the economy and to the environment. In the Cape Wind case, his dominant, exterior value is what Layzer calls “conservationism.”[3] He believes that the Nantucket Sound is an important natural resource that should be conserved in order that it may be safely and effectively used for human means. Gordon believes that his wind farm is an effective use of this American treasure. This value is complimented by what Carole Merchant would call his “Homocentric” set of values.[4] He believes that while the environment is of the utmost importance, ultimately those in power should take pains to empower and protect humans.

Ted Kennedy provides an example of a different set of environmentalist values. While his political track record shows that he often supports environmental litigation,[5] in this specific case Kennedy is in favor of a “preservationist” approach to environmental action.[6] He believes that the Nantucket Sound should remain untouched by human development in order to serve the intangible purpose of inspiring individuals through its natural beauty and ecological diversity. In this specific case Kennedy does not take issue with the concept of offshore wind farms, however he believes that the chosen location is too naturally beautiful to develop. It should be noted in this case that Kennedy owns property that overlooks the Sound and therefore holds individual interest in the issue outside of his abstract understanding of the environment.[7]

A value analysis of Ted Kennedy and Jim Gordon shows the wide range of values under the broad title “environmentalist.” Kennedy and Gordon both believe that alternative energy is a good start in the American combat against global warming. They agree that wind farms may be one solution to that problem. Ultimately, however, Kennedy and Gordon emphatically disagree about the use of a specific piece of land, namely the Nantucket Sound. This is because their individual values for that specific piece of land are in direct opposition. Gordon sees the Nantucket Sound as an opportunity for alternative energy growth in the Northeast. Kennedy believes that the Nantucket sounds should remain pristine and untouched by human structures in order to serve as a reminder to residents and visitors of the natural beauty of the land.

[1] Layzer p. 421

[2] Ibid

[3] Lazyer 3

[4] Merchant 52

[5] Lazyer 432

[6] Layzer 3

[7] Layzer 432

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