Wind Farm Creates Tempest for Tribes' Religious Liberty

January 22, 2010

Author: Rob Bernstein

Source: First Amendment Center

Two American Indian tribes scored a rare and possibly temporary victory this month when the National Park Service agreed to designate Nantucket Sound, where a major wind farm is set to be installed, as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The designation does not prevent development of the wind farm, but it does present new hurdles for the proposed Cape Cod wind-energy project. The fate of the wind farm, known as Cape Wind, now rests with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who can decide whether to give the project a green light after seeking advice from an independent federal agency.

The two Massachusetts tribes that requested the designation contend that Nantucket Sound has traditional cultural and archaeological value, and that erecting the proposed 130 turbines in federal waters would block their unobstructed view of the sunrise, preventing them from conducting religious rituals, and would restrict access to now-submerged ancestral burial grounds.