Supporters of a proposed wind farm off Cape Cod suspect Alaska Rep. Don Young is trying to kill the project at the behest of a lobbyist with long-standing Alaska connections.
However, the lobbyist, Guy Martin, said he has never talked to Young or his staff about the issue.
Martin collected $100,000 in the first half of 2005 working for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group opposed to building a wind farm off the Massachusetts coast.
"Basically, this is just a crazy kind of an attempt by the Cape Wind builders to somehow personalize this issue," Martin said.
Cape Wind, a private company, wants to build a 420-megawatt, 130-tower wind farm in Nantucket Sound, just south of Cape Cod.
Young last week circulated a five-page letter advocating a change in Coast Guard navigational rules, changes that some say would kill the Cape Wind project. Young wants wind turbines outlawed within 1 1/2 miles of shipping lanes. Much of Cape Wind's proposed project sits within that distance of a major route through the sound.
Both Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, sit on a House-Senate conference committee that is trying to finish the bill authorizing Coast Guard programs for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Young's letter repeats many arguments offered by the opponents of the Cape Wind project.
Calls to Young's committee spokesman were not immediately returned Wednesday. Congress is on break.
"In the last few months, it has come to our attention that significant navigational safety problems come into play with regard to offshore wind energy facilities," Young said in the letter.
Recent studies from the United Kingdom show that wind turbines disrupt navigational radar, "increasing collision and pollution risk," Young said.
Martin said he didn't call those problems to Young's attention, contrary to insinuations spread this week by proponents of the wind power project.
"Why would Congressman Young be so interested in wind power projects located nowhere near his state?" the Natural Resources Defense Council asked in a news release Wednesday afternoon. "One answer might be that his longtime friend and former Alaska state environmental official Guy Martin has been hired by a group of wealthy families trying to block a proposed wind farm several miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass."
Martin does have long-standing connections with Alaska and he is well-acquainted with Young. But his political alliances are much closer to Democrats. He began his Washington career with Rep. Nick Begich, D-Alaska, who disappeared on a plane in 1972 and who Young replaced in a special election.
After working for Alaska's Republican Gov. Jay Hammond as Natural Resources commissioner, Martin joined President Jimmy Carter's Interior Department as an assistant secretary in the late 1970s. Martin has worked with Perkins Coie since the early 1980s.