Federal Judge Upholds Offshore Wind Farm Permits
BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts ruled against a Nantucket nonprofit trying to block development of a large offshore wind farm about 15 miles off the coast of the island and Martha’s Vineyard.
In its underlying complaint, the group Nantucket Residents Against Turbines claimed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and National Marine Fisheries Service erred in advancing the development of the Vineyard Wind wind farm due to environmental concerns.
Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed the agencies failed to “take the requisite hard look at the environmental consequences of the project, both as to the right whales and as to the air quality and emissions impacts.”
Additionally, the anti-wind farm group argued the “biological opinion” issued for the project failed “to engage with the best scientific and commercial data available,” as required under the Endangered Species Act.
The project developers, who were also named as defendants in the lawsuit, said none of this was true and maintained that throughout the permitting process they had been subject to all manner of terms and conditions, and encouraged to incorporate several mitigation measures into its development plans.
Among these was a promise that they would suspend construction during any right whale activity in the area.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sided with the defendants, holding that Nantucket Residents Against Turbines has “failed to demonstrate that NMFS or BOEM violated the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act in considering and issuing the 2021 Biological Opinion or the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Vineyard Wind Project.”
Following Talwani’s decision, Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Moeller held a news conference in which he said the first turbine will be installed in the United States’ first commercial scale wind farm by late summer, with construction of support facilities likely to be completed by next spring.
“This will be the core of the next 30 years when we will be operating Vineyard Wind,” Moeller said of the Packer marine terminal, where the press had gathered.
He said the plan right now is to install 10 turbines a month and have the construction phase of the project completed by next summer.