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SUPPORT FOR CAPE WIND RISES AHEAD OF PUBLIC HEARINGS, BOOSTED BY DRAFT FEDERAL REPORT SHOWING NO MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL HARMS

In Wake of Report, Residents Statewide and on Cape/Islands More Inclined to Support Cape Wind; Strong Desire for New “Massachusetts Miracle” With MA as National Clean Energy Leader.

WASHINGTON, D.C.///March 6, 2008//Support for the Cape Wind turbine farm project in Nantucket Sound has climbed to its highest level ever statewide (86 percent) and on the Cape/Islands (74 percent), due in part to the positive and widely publicized draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released in January 2008 by the U.S. Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS).

Made public just days before a series of public hearings to be held statewide on Cape Wind, the new scientific survey of more than 1,200 state residents was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) for the independent Civil Society Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank located in Newton, MA.

Key survey findings include the following:

  • 87 percent of state residents –- including 77 percent of Cape Cod/Islands residents -– are now “more likely to support Cape Wind” in the wake of the draft MMS environmental impact statement finding “no major harms to the environment resulting from the Cape Wind project for Nantucket Sound.” Nearly half (46 percent) of those still opposed to Cape Wind say that the MMS report now makes them more likely to support the clean energy project.
  • Support for Cape Wind in Massachusetts statewide has grown to 86 percent -– compared to 84 percent in August 2007 and 81 percent in June 2006 surveys posing the same question.
  • The growth in support for the Cape Wind project in Cape Cod/the Islands is even more striking -– rising to 74 percent in the new recent survey, compared to 61 percent in October 2007 (in a survey limited to Cape Cod/Islands residents) and 58 percent in August 2007.
  • More than nine out of 10 state residents (94 percent) -– including 82 percent of Cape Cod/Islands residents -– think the Bay State should be “a national leader in using cleaner and renewable energy on a large scale by moving ahead with offshore wind power, and other alternative-energy initiatives.”
  • Nearly all state residents (95 percent) say that Massachusetts should seek to spark another “Massachusetts Miracle” in the vein of the Route 128 tech boom by “seeking to create new jobs and industries by becoming a national hub for new energy technology development.”
  • Nearly all state residents (95 percent) think it is “important” that “Massachusetts take the steps needed now to ‘unplug’ itself from coal- and oil-based power and ‘plug in’ to solar, wind and other clean energy sources.”

Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said: “This new survey makes it clear that the widely publicized draft report issuing a clean bill of health to Cape Wind has further improved how the public looks at the project. That is true both statewide and among Cape/Islands residents. In the process, the survey debunks the notion that there is any sizeable public opposition to Cape Wind. Instead, what we see is that Massachusetts residents are way ahead of the politicians today in recognizing the serious threat posed by global warming and the need for immediate and comprehensive energy policy changes, including moving ahead on Cape Wind.”

Opinion Research Corporation Senior Researcher Graham Hueber said: “It is clear from these numbers that an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts residents – regardless of where they live – want to see more clean energy used in the state. And they want to see state policies and practices changed in a way that the state can become a true national hub for energy-related innovation and leadership, with all that would mean in terms of high-paying jobs and other benefits. It is striking that you can see throughout these numbers a consistent 80-90 percent of state residents agreeing on the path that Massachusetts should take to redefine itself going forward.”

The federal Minerals Management Service will hold four public hearings on its draft Environment Impact Statement (EIS) on Cape Wind: Monday, March 10, 2008 -- Cape Cod, 6:00PM-12:00AM, Mattacheese Middle School Auditorium, West Yarmouth, MA; Tuesday, March 11, 2008 – Nantucket, 5:00PM-10:00PM, Nantucket High School Auditorium, Nantucket, MA; Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - Martha's Vineyard, 5:00PM-10:00PM, Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Auditorium, Oak Bluffs, MA; and Thursday, March 13, 2008 – Boston, 6:00PM-12:00AM, Campus Center Ballroom, University of Massachusetts, Boston. For more information about the MMS draft EIS, go to www.mms.gov/offshore/RenewableEnergy/CapeWind.htm.

OTHER SURVEY FINDINGS

  • It may be possible to further increase backing for Cape Wind in Massachusetts. Nearly nine out of 10 state residents (86 percent) -– including 71 percent of Cape Cod/Islands residents -– say they are more likely to support the Cape Wind project when told that “the coal-fired power plants that supply a great deal of the electric power in Massachusetts get a substantial amount of their coal from two sources - mountain top removal coal mining that has destroyed 500 mountains in the United States and also from the world's largest open pit coal mine in Colombia that has been linked to human rights abuses.”
  • Support for Cape Wind also rises when Massachusetts residents are told that the state could be a national clean energy leader by permitting the wind project to proceed. Nearly nine out of 10 state residents (88 percent) –- including 77 percent of Cape Cod/Islands residents -– are more likely to support the project when told the following: “Today, Massachusetts trails nearly all other states - such as Texas -- when it comes to the development and deployment of clean energy wind technology and related jobs. Experts say that Massachusetts could move up the list from the bottom 10 states where it is now, to the top 10 states in terms of wind power production, if it moves ahead with the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.”
  • Opposition to Cape Wind in the Cape/Islands region has shrunk to less than one in four adults (24 percent compared to 13 percent statewide), with under one in five Cape/Islands residents (16 percent) expressing strong opposition.
  • Over three out of four state residents (78 percent) – including 77 percent of those living on Cape Cod/the Islands -– think that “Massachusetts should reduce regulatory red tape and other barriers to the widespread use of clean energy technology and jobs.”
  • Wind is favored by more than four out of five state residents (83 percent) –- including 75 percent of Cape/Island residents -– as the best source of electricity for Cape Cod and the Islands, compared to nuclear (10 percent), coal (3 percent) and other (2 percent).
  • More than nine out of 10 state residents (92 percent) –- including 84 percent of Cape Code/Islands residents -– favor the use of more wind power “before we resort to adding more nuclear power.”
  • Four out of five state residents – including 77 percent of Cape/Islands residents -– favor a “five-year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants on the East Coast and the rest of the United States if there was stepped-up investment on clean, safe renewable energy - such as wind and solar - and improved home energy-efficiency standards.”
  • About nine out of 10 Massachusetts residents –- including 84 percent of Cape/Islands residents -- agree with the following statement: "The effects of global warming require that we take timely and decisive steps for renewable, safe and clean energy sources. We need transitional technologies on our path to energy independence. There are tough choices to be made and tradeoffs. We cannot afford to postpone decisions since there are no perfect options."
  • About three out of four state residents (76 percent) –- including 90 percent of Cape/Islands residents – say they are “aware of the public discussion about Cape Wind, the offshore wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound.”

The new CSI survey builds on findings of earlier polls it released statewide in Massachusetts and on the Cape/Islands in August 2007 and the Cape/Islands in isolation in October 2007. This is the first major survey of attitudes about Cape Wind to be released in the wake of the highly publicized draft federal EIS findings about Cape Wind.

For full findings from the new survey, go to http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

The latest survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted among a sample of adults age 18 and over, living in private households, in the state of Massachusetts. The 2008 survey was conducted among 1,203 Massachusetts adults. Interviewing was completed during the period of February 22-26, 2008. All completed interviews were weighted by two variables: age and gender, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population. For the 2008 sample of 1,200 the margin is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins.

ABOUT THE CIVIL SOCIETY INSTITUTE

The nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org) is a Newton, Massachusetts-based think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 15 major national and state-level surveys on energy and global warming issues. CSI is the organizer of both 40MPG.org (http://www.40MPG.org) and the Hybrid Owners of America (http://www.HybridOwnersofAmerica.org). The Civil Society Institute also is a convener of the Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now (CLEAN) campaign at http://www.cleanenergyaction.net.

CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available on the Web at http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org as of 6 p.m. ET on March 6, 2008.