These days, when government regulatory agencies claim they've been thorough and rigorous in their duties, the public is understandably skeptical.
Think bank regulators.
Think the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans.
Think the Minerals Management Service's oversight of British Petroleum.
Now think the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Both are accused in federal lawsuits of violating the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
In ruling in favor of wind farms off Cape Cod, according to a federal lawsuit, these agencies ignored their own findings about migratory birds and whales that could be affected by the project.
Wind power has pulled off the dubious achievement of the age by getting those colossal, bird-killing windmills classified as "green power."
Thanks to Energy Northwest and some of our region's other utilities, our long views of the Blue Mountains now bristle with inefficient, taxpayer-subsidized towers so ugly even Don Quixote would have lowered his visor to blot out some of the view.
According to The Associated Press, groups filing the lawsuit include the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Cetacean Society International.
They say suggested protective measures were refused, including those for the endangered roseate tern and the threatened piping plover. The environmental groups suggested shutting down turbines during peak migration periods.
They also charge that the agencies refused to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement after learning that a large aggregation of the endangered North Atlantic right whale was in the area.
"The approvals were based upon scientific misconduct to the detriment of wildlife," Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, told the AP. "One small indication of that is that government scientists indicate that two federally listed birds may be driven to extinction, yet those concerns were not reflected in any of the official agencies' documents."
The government, through several administrations now, has worked mightily on insisting that wind power is wonderful, cheap and reliable.
We doubt all those claims. No doubt, wind turbines will play a role in powering the nation, but let's drop the pretense.
As the Massachusetts lawsuit points out, these behemoths are neither benign nor a panacea for our energy woes.
Advocates all but ignore the visual blight. The government and wind machine manufacturers are remarkably silent on what these things look like.
Maybe the folks up around Cape Cod will have more luck than we did.
At least they have had the good sense to go to court, where a judge, not the agencies, decides what's open to public discussion and what is not.