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Stearns Reviewing FAA Emails Showing White House Political Pressure to Approve Cape Wind Project

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Location: Washington, DC

"As with Solyndra and other projects, emails and other documents* show that for political reasons the White House pressured a federal agency to approve an energy project," said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "In this case, personnel at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the controversial Cape Wind project under White House pressure without giving adequate attention to the risk Cape Wind would pose to small aircraft operating in the area."

An internal FAA email dated May 7, 2010, states, "Who is willing to go tell the White House that we are halting wind development because there might be wake turbulence or microclimate effects?" A PowerPoint presentation to Eastern Service Area Directors on May 3, 2010, included, ""It would be very difficult politically to refuse approval of this project."

The records also outline specific safety and national security concerns with the project. An October 31, 2011 email reads: "I don't think air traffic could keep a low flying search-only VFR [visual flight rules] from running into a wind turbine." The documents reviewed by my office clearly show that the FAA's own experts have determined that the Cape Wind's 42 story, 24- square-mile wind plant would have an adverse effect on the 400,000 annual flights that traverse this airspace, but instead the FAA succumbed to political pressure and issued its third No Hazard Determination in 2010. In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the FAA ruling that Cape Wind presented no hazard to aircraft or local air traffic control. Because of the Federal Court order, the FAA must now again consider the very real aviation safety risks posed by Cape Wind's 24-square-mile wind plant proposed for an area directly in the middle of a highly trafficked, low-altitude flight corridor in Nantucket Sound.


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