top of page
  • MLCA

Fishing Industry Group To Sue Over Vineyard Wind Approval

Photo courtesy of Vineyard Wind

By Nathaniel Burola

On October 19, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), an organization of fishing industry and companies, filed a 60-day notice of its intent to sue over the decision by the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) to permit Vineyard Wind 1, an offshore wind project in federal waters off Massachusetts.

“Offshore wind has inherent conflicts with fishing and this is a huge threat to seafood production as we know it,” stated RODA’s Executive Director Annie Hawkins in an email. “We can’t let the first project set a precedent that it’s okay to ignore the concerns and recommendation of fishermen who have lived on those waters for centuries.”

The Secretary of Interior through BOEM granted the Vineyard Wind 1 Project final approval in July. The wind farm would encompass more than 65,000 acres of seafloor and feature 84 fixed wind turbines generating 800-megawatts of electricity when completed.

“This Administration is moving full speed ahead on offshore wind, with plans to build 30 gigawatts in U.S. waters in less than 10 years and then a lot more,” Hawkins noted. “The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s leasing regulations allow developers to do almost anything they want, instead of upholding the public interest. There are no real requirements for projects to be sited and designed to avoid fisheries. There aren’t even any criteria for weighing the importance of fishing or fishing communities.”

RODA stated its intent to file a lawsuit if federal officials do not make changes to the project that bring it into compliance with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other federal laws that were enacted to protect the nation’s environment, industries, and people. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act controls federal leases for offshore mineral and energy resources. The Clean Water Act helps control pollution and discharge from companies into important oceans and rivers. The Endangered Species Act conserves and protects endangered and threatened species along with their habitats. If the legislative violations are not resolved within a 60-day period, RODA will move forward with suing the federal government for its failure to address these issues.

Hawkins emphasized that fishermen’s concerns have not been recognized by BOEM, despite years of involvement.

“We and individual fishing groups and associations have attended every meeting, written thousands of pages of comments, met with state and federal regulators, and gone above and beyond to improve this process,” she said. “We’ve made various reasonable requests, from some baseline research on environmental impacts to suggesting a reasonable network of transit lanes so that fishermen can pass safely through project areas. Yet all the government did was agree to the voluntary ‘mitigation’ practices proposed by the developer.”

The intent to sue letter comes a month after RODA submitted a petition for the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals to review BOEM’s decision. The court has yet to make a ruling on the petition.

Hawkins reiterated the long-term importance of RODA’s action. “We need to make the government and wind developers understand that the ocean isn’t the wild west and they can’t just take whatever they want. This would apply to all current and future projects, not just Vineyard Wind or those in Southern New England,” Hawkins said.

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page