A Big Day for Offshore Wind: Federal Court Overwhelmingly Rejects Cape Wind Opponents’ Claims

Sue Reid

In a sweeping decision issued today, a federal court in the nation’s capitol ruled against Bill Koch’s Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and other Cape Wind opponents on a series of claims they had brought against the nation’s first offshore wind project. The decision is a significant milestone for the 130-turbine Cape Wind project, which today took a huge leap forward after more than a decade of exhaustive reviews. It’s also a critical milestone for the United States, which lags many years behind other nations in tapping into abundant, clean, renewable offshore wind resources.

The decision was issued in connection with several cases that collectively embodied an “Everything-AND-the-Kitchen Sink” approach to challenging the project. The court rejected a variety of claims brought under the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act. The Court also rejected plaintiffs’ efforts to pursue a fishing expedition for additional documents and information outside the scope of the federal government’s lengthy and detailed review.

While the court’s decision directs the federal government – specifically, US Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service – to take additional procedural steps with respect to two limited issues, we are confident that these steps can be swiftly completed based on extensive information and analysis already on hand. And CLF will continue to support Cape Wind, together with our partners NRDC and Mass Audubon, who joined us in submitting “friend of the court” briefs in the federal litigation.

So, why is Bill Koch’s Alliance claiming victory and crowing that Cape Wind supposedly will be “sent back to the proverbial drawing board”? Good question. The Court found that the federal government’s review was thorough. The judge overwhelmingly rejected opponents’ broad array of claims. Today’s decision also essentially provides a roadmap for completing two limited additional procedural steps. So, the Koch-funded Alliance’s rallying cry rings more than a little hollow.  Kind of like more wishful thinking from opponents driven by a strategy of “delay, delay, delay…”  Thankfully, today’s decision propels Cape Wind forward and is good news for the nation’s clean energy future.

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3 Responses to “A Big Day for Offshore Wind: Federal Court Overwhelmingly Rejects Cape Wind Opponents’ Claims”

  1. Jim Gordon

    This day and result would not have happened without the active participation and guidance that CLF invested in the ten year Cape Wind regulatory and legal process . Although at times, I will admit it was frustrating, time consuming and expensive, CLF’s leadership along with other respected national and regional environmental organizations ensured that we and the Federal and State regulators cover every environmental, scientific and socio economic aspect of this pioneering project.
    I never imagined just how critical this comprehensive and exhaustive approach would be until we saw a single issue front group financed by a Petroleum Coke and Coal billionaire launch scores of administrative and legal challenges against a renewable energy project that dared to sit on a distant horizon from their private beaches and summer homes.
    Cape Wind thanks CLF for all their efforts in creating a better energy future and in perserving and enhancing the environment of the Cape and Islands.
    Jim Gordon, President
    Cape Wind

  2. Bob Werner

    As one who has followed (and supports) the Cape Wind effort. I am thrilled that this project is finally almost at the point of implementation. It has been a difficult process and sadly, the opposition has been relentless in their quest to quash this necessary project. Congratulations to Jim Gordon and best wishes for a successful completion.

  3. Capt. Eward Jackson

    Congratulations, Jim, Mark, and all the crew! I still remember the day over a decade ago when I was aboard the PATRIOT II for the decication of the Instrumentation Tower.
    Good Luck,
    Ed

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