GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said on Monday that his administration is working with Vineyard Wind to develop a “cure plan” to address the concerns of federal agencies as they review the offshore wind project’s environmental impact statement.
Baker met Monday morning with officials at the Interior Department, including, according to his schedule, Secretary David Bernhardt, and said a series of additional staff meetings are planned on the offshore wind project over the next few days. “Our goal is to get as much clarity as we can in the next several days and then we’ll put together a cure plan because we really want this project to happen,” the governor said after a meeting at the State House with House and Senate leaders.
Quoting from internal agency documents, Reuters reported on Monday that federal agencies are wrangling over whether the Vineyard Wind proposal does enough to address concerns raised by the fishing industry. According to Reuters, the National Marine Fisheries Service declined to sign off on the environmental impact statement because it did not fully address concerns about the layout of the wind turbines, particularly the spacing between them and their orientation. The news service also said the proposal relied on “undefined measures” to compensate fishermen for potential damage to their livelihoods.
Reuters quoted a document written by an official at the Bureau of Oceans Energy Management saying the fishing industry’s concerns “do not rise to the level that would justify the likely extensive project delays and potential failure of the project.”
Publicly, the Bureau of Oceans Energy Management, the lead federal agency on offshore wind projects, has said it needs more time to review the project’s environmental statement but hasn’t spelled out what’s causing the holdup. The agency declined comment Monday.
Baker indicated fishing issues are part of the debate, but he suggested a number of federal agencies have concerns.
Vineyard Wind is operating under a very tight construction schedule and has warned that any delay beyond the end of August could derail the project entirely. The project is currently scheduled to start construction this year and be completed in 2021.