United States

United States

Fishing group sues US government over offshore wind permit

Lawsuit against under-construction 800MW Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm claims environmental regulations were “shortcut”

Vineyard Wind 1 is due to feature GE Renewable Energy's 13MW Haliade-X turbines
Vineyard Wind 1 is due to feature GE Renewable Energy's 13MW Haliade-X turbines

A lawsuit has been filed challenging the US Interior Department’s approval of the 800MW Vineyard Wind 1 Vineyard Wind 1 (800MW) Offshoreoff Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA, North America Click to see full details offshore wind project off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), which describes itself as a broad membership-based coalition of fishing industry associations and fishing companies, filed the suit in federal court in Washington DC.

Construction is already under way at the 62-turbine Vineyard 1, developed by Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), part of the Department of the Interior (DOI), approved the project in May 2021.

It is the first of numerous commercial -scale wind projects planned off the US coast, and the one that has progressed the furthest. As such, the outcome of the suit will be watched closely.

The suit alleges that government agencies violated numerous environmental protection laws when authorising the project. The defendants include the DOI, BOEM and other government agencies and key personnel.

Annie Hawkins, executive director of RODA, said: “The fishing industry supports strong action on climate change, but not at the expense of the ocean, its inhabitants, and sustainable domestic seafood.”  

 “The decisions on this project didn’t balance ocean resource conservation and management, and must not set a precedent for the enormous ‘pipeline of projects’ the government plans to facilitate in the near term. So we had no alternative to filing suit, she added.”

The suit claims: “In its haste to implement a massive new programme to generate electrical energy by constructing thousands of turbine towers offshore the eastern seaboard on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf and laying hundreds of miles of high-tension electrical cables undersea, the United States has shortcut the statutory and regulatory requirements that were enacted to protect our nation’s environmental and natural resources, its industries, and its people.”

Windpower Monthly contacted BOEM and Vineyard Wind for a response, both said they could not comment on pending litigation.

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