Annie Hawkins has a message you don’t hear very often in Massachusetts these days.
The executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a national group of fishing interests, Hawkins is questioning the rush to develop offshore wind. Her organization is suing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, alleging the agency is failing to protect the fishing industry as it races to develop the nation’s offshore wind potential to help address climate change.
“In taking action to address climate change, we have to acknowledge that these new uses [of the ocean] have a lot of environmental uncertainty. They have a lot of impacts of their own,” Hawkins said on The Codcast. “They can be better understood and minimized before we go whole hog on this 30 gigawatts tomorrow. A lot more upfront due diligence needs to be done.”
The 30 gigawatts reference refers to President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. It’s a goal that meshes with Gov. Charlie Baker’s push to develop 3.2 gigawatts by 2030. The Baker administration has already procured 1.6 gigawatts and is in the midst of reviewing proposals that would double that amount.
Vineyard Wind, the nation’s first commercial scale wind farm, secured federal regulatory approval in May and last week it cemented its financing. But Hawkins is going to court to tap the brakes, saying the process is moving too fast. In the rush to address climate change, she says, the nation is taking actions that will be bad for the environment in other ways.
“Climate’s really, really important but there’s also a lot of environmental issues that are really important. It’s not like a few months or a year is going to be a make it or break it on the climate issue,” Hawkins said.
“To me the messaging has a lot of dissonance in it. We’re looking at very, very big multinational energy companies that in other spheres and other things we’d be saying they’re just not credible for protecting the public interest,” she said. “There’s this sentiment of just completely leaving it to them to solve these problems that in many cases these exact same companies created. The government needs to and has to provide that level of unbiased oversight.”
While most members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation take the position that the Trump administration was slow-walking offshore wind to nowhere, Hawkins said the Trump administration was following a process that Biden is now trying to sidestep. Hawkins said her group’s lawsuit is an attempt to move the debate out of the political arena and have a discussion about the tradeoffs involved with pursuing offshore wind.
“This shouldn’t be so political,” she said.
Hawkins has a host of fishing-specific concerns with the wind farms that are on the drawing boards, but she also worries about what will happen to fish stocks when thousands of giant, fixed turbines are plunked down in the ocean. She points out that when federal officials leased a section of the ocean 15 miles off of Martha’s Vineyard to Vineyard Wind in 2015, there weren’t a lot of North Atlantic right whales in the area. But now the endangered creatures have moved in, construction of the wind farm is scheduled to begin, and no one is sure what to do.
“It’s not the best way to negotiate this,” Hawkins said of her group’s lawsuit. “Working in natural resource policy, the common adage is that the courts are the worst place to make these decisions because the judges are the least informed vis-a-vis the experts. That being said, when the experts don’t do their job, you don’t have any recourse.”
A rare recommendation: The case for commuting the first degree murder conviction of William Allen appears to be a strong one. The Advisory Board of Pardons unanimously recommended Allen’s commutation because of his enormous strides “towards self-improvement and self-development” over the last 27 years he has spent in prison. Those who know him best say Allen is deserving. His case is the second time in Gov. Charlie Baker’s nearly eight-year tenure that a commutation has been recommended. Read more.
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Bike support: Galen Mook of MassBike and Josh Ostroff of Transportation for Massachusetts highlight five steps (and accompanying legislation) to develop a strong bicycling strategy. Read more.
Food insecurity: Jill Shah of the Shah Family Foundation says food-insecure people know what works for them, and we should listen to them. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Sen. Joan Lovely wants to require that municipal public building projects give preference to using American-made building materials. (Salem News)
Some lawmakers are seeking to hold harmless people who were accidentally overpaid unemployment benefits. (Gloucester Daily Times)
The town of Nahant filed a petition to seize by eminent domain from Northeastern University a 12.5-acre coastal parcel where the university wants to build. (Boston Globe)
The phased roll-out of Boston’s vaccine mandate for municipal employees begins today. (Boston Herald)
Making a dent in the plague of discarded needles in the vicinity of Mass. Ave. and Melnea Cass Boulevard in Boston is a program started last December that pays people $1 for every five used needles they turn in. (Boston Globe)
A new political PAC forms to correct misinformation about Salem’s city operations. (Salem News)
The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective in children 5-12 years old, the companies announced, and they plan to apply by the end of the month for FDA authorization of the vaccine for that age group. (Associated Press)
The head of UMass Memorial Health calls on St. Vincent Hospital and its nurses to end the strike and return to work, citing a crisis in health care with the surging COVID pandemic and limited hospital capacity. (Telegram & Gazette)
Local Haitians leader and US Rep. Ayanna Pressley decry the Biden administration’s moves to deport Haitian migrants seeking asylum at the Texas border back to their home country. (Boston Herald)
The Boston Herald says Michelle Wu is looking to soften her image as the progressive in the Boston mayor’s race in order to broaden her appeal in the final election.
Five candidates will compete in Lawrence’s preliminary election for mayor on Tuesday. (Eagle-Tribune)
With four women running in the preliminary election for mayor in North Adams, the municipality is guaranteed its first female mayor. (Berkshire Eagle)
Lawmakers tour Pioneer Valley farms and hear from farmers about problems that include the overabundance of milk, lack of employees, changing consumer taste, and the cost of land. (MassLive)
Kayak founder Paul English has developed a new app that lets listeners sample clips of podcasts to help them make choices from the oodles of podcasts now available. (Boston Globe)
The Education Committee will hear testimony Monday on a teachers union-supported bill that would eliminate use of the MCAS and replace it with a broader assessment of student learning. (State House News Service)
A Black Uber driver files a civil lawsuit against the Worcester Police Department after a police officer seized his phone and held onto it after the man filmed a prostitution sting. (Telegram & Gazette)
Former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia, convicted of corruption, will be sentenced Monday and will likely receive prison time. (Herald News)