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The controversial Cape Wind offshore project in Massachusetts took a step closer to becoming a reality on Friday, receiving a favorable review from the Minerals Management Service in a final environmental impact statement. The Cape Wind group said it could complete the permitting process by March. […]

The controversial Cape Wind offshore project in Massachusetts took a step closer to becoming a reality on Friday, receiving a favorable review from the Minerals Management Service in a final environmental impact statement. The Cape Wind group said it could complete the permitting process by March.

There’s a mandatory waiting period of at least 30 days before the MMS can issue a final decision on approving a lease for the 420-megawatt wind farm, but it is expected to be approved, as the report found that the project’s environmental impacts will be mostly negligible.

Clearing this almost-final hurdle is positive news for other U.S. offshore wind projects that are still in the wings. Earlier this month, the governor of Rhode Island signed a final agreement with Deepwater Wind for a 400-MW offshore wind project. Deepwater Wind is also working on a 350-MW offshore wind farm in New Jersey, partnering with the Public Service Enterprise Group on that development.

It’s been a year since the MMS released the draft version of its report on Cape Wind, which received over 42,000 comments. The project, which was originally proposed in 2001, has received strong opposition from some locals, including Sen. Ted Kennedy, who would be able to see the wind farm from his beachfront Hyannis Port estate.

The offshore project still needs to get some other federal, state and local permits in order, but the Cape Wind group said most of those permits could be secured this winter, with a remaining Federal Aviation Administration permit likely to come through in the spring.

By David Ehrlich

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