Environmental impact communication: Cape Wind EIS, 2001–2015

Donald Ross

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

5 Scopus citations


‘‘Cape Wind’’ is a proposed wind-energy project off the Massachusetts coast. Its environmental effects are detailed in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Writers of an EIS must address rhetorical challenges posed by the complexity of how the ‘‘environment’’ is characterized by many statutes and regulations. These requirements include guidance on the document’s style, and because the text is hundreds of pages long, they also include rules on its arrangement (its genre), and its online delivery. Partly as a result, the writer’s stance is that of an impersonal, corporate author. The EIS is required to address multiple audiences that include decision makers and elected officials; public participation in the process is encouraged. Evidence about the actual audience shows that the public finds out about the project through media reports, web sites, and press releases, rather than studying the EIS. Finally, sustained opposition by a fossil-fuel lobbying group has led to the project’s apparent demise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages28
Specialist publicationJournal of Technical Writing and Communication
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Environmental impact statement
  • Federal statute
  • Genre
  • Internet publication
  • Reader response
  • Wind-power electricity generation


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