A GROUP REPRESENTING US fishing interests is suing to block the federal government’s approval of Vineyard Wind, becoming the second organization to file a legal challenge to the nation’s first commercial offshore wind project.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a coalition of fishing industry associations and companies, signaled on Monday its intent to sue the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management by filing a petition with the First Circuit US Court of Appeals seeking clarification on which court is the most appropriate to hear the challenge.
In a press release, the alliance criticized the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for its hasty approval of Vineyard Wind and the agency’s failure to take into account the concerns of the fishing industry. The alliance said the design of Vineyard Wind bunches the turbines too close together and fails to take into account the cumulative environmental impact of building dozens of wind farms along the East Coast.
“BOEM has failed to sincerely consider any mitigation measures beyond those voluntarily suggested by the investment banks and multinational energy giants to which it is leasing federal lands and waters. Climate change must be addressed, but in a way that deliberatively minimizes these emerging technologies’ direct impacts to marine ecosystems, biodiversity, and food security,” the alliance said in a press release.
The alliance’s concerns are not new. Just as wind energy proponents criticized the Trump administration for delaying action on Vineyard Wind for several years, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance criticized the Biden administration for quickly reversing course after the election and giving the wind farm a quick approval.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance is the second group to challenge Vineyard Wind in court. Late last month, two Nantucket residents backed by a group of think tanks and beachfront property owners filed suit seeking to block Vineyard Wind until regulators can assure the safety of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.
The lawsuits raise the possibility that litigation might be a way to slow and possibly kill wind farms that state and federal officials are counting on to decarbonize the economy. Cape Wind, which sought to become the nation’s first wind farm, was stalled and eventually killed when lawsuits made it impossible to retain investors and begin energy production on time.