The Edgartown Conservation Commission has thrown the first hurdle in the way of Vineyard Wind, an 84-turbine wind farm off the island. The commission last week denied Vineyard Wind’s application to run electric cables from the turbines to the mainland. The cables would run about a mile east of Chappaquiddick.
The plan has been approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the Nantucket Conservation Commission and the Cape Cod Commission.
The Edgartown commission held a hearing on the cables several weeks ago, which, according to the Vineyard Gazette, involved some five hours of testimony from a dozen commercial fishermen and environmental activists. The Gazette described the exchanges as “heated and at times passionate.”
The fishermen claimed that the cables could pose a risk to the fishery and hence their livelihood. The testimony sowed enough doubt among the commissioners that they voted 5-1 last week against the project.
It was an extreme case of short-term versus long-term planning. Unfortunately, the Edgartown Conservation Commission acted on short-term concerns.
It is difficult to understand. One would think the commission would have seen that the imagined threat of underwater cables is nothing compared to the very real threat of climate change. And it won’t be only fishermen who have to deal with its effects.
For some reason, commercial fishermen have garnered the sympathy of politicians and government officials, and they have caved to their entreaties for protection time and again. And it has never worked out well. The oceans fisheries, near and far, have been impacted severely by overfishing and yet policy makers do as little as possible to curtail commercial fishing. There is nothing new here.
One would think that, after all this time, the concerns of commercial fishermen would be put aside for the long-term future of the planet.