Backers of the proposed wind farm off Cape Cod are trying to generate some energy of their own on Capitol Hill — scrambling to lobby lawmakers to kill an amendment that could doom the project.
An alliance of 55 energy, labor and environmental groups is sending a joint letter urging members of Congress to oppose the measure.
"There's a heavy, heavy grassroots component," said Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind Associates, the developer of the project. "It's happening on a nationwide basis."
The coalition, which announced the letter at a Washington news conference on Thursday, claims that "backroom" politicking is behind an amendment that was tucked into a larger $8.7 billion Coast Guard spending bill with no formal votes or hearings.
Cape Wind has complained that the amendment was tucked into the Coast Guard bill without any public hearings or public debate.
Wind farm supporters hope to block the bill when it comes to a vote as early as next week in Congress after lawmakers return from their spring recess.
Project opponents defended the amendment, which hands veto power over the project to the governor of Massachusetts.
"A decision that is going to materially effect the Cape and the islands should be made in Massachusetts," said Ernie Corrigan, a spokesman for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a leading anti-wind farm group.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., voiced concern about the amendment.
"Although our options for fighting this may be limited because the Coast Guard legislation is so critical to our nation's security, I am working with colleagues to explore those options," said Lieberman in a statement Thursday.
Two senators who are leading voices on energy issues have also expressed concern. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., and the panel's senior Democrat, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. have issued statements recently about the amendment.
Because the Coast Guard bill has already been approved by a House-Senate conference committee, it would be difficult to change the amendment or eliminate it from the overall bill.
Greenpeace, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Union of Concerned Scientists and U.S. Public Interest Research Group are among coalition members.