Cape Wind offshore project gets green signal from US court
A US district court has squashed four lawsuits filed by environmental organisations against the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts.
The court has upheld the US Department of the Interior's approval to the project but has directed the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to reassess the extent of impact the offshore wind project would have on the migrating birds and the right whales.
The Cape Wind project is located in the Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, a habitat for important marine species.
The lawsuits were originally filed in 2010 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Cetacean Society International, Three Bays Preservation, the Town of Barnstable, and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.
The petitioners have contended that the 130 wind turbines of 440ft height will have an adverse impact on Nantucket Sound and also increase the electricity costs for consumers in the state.
The court's judgment was hailed by Cape Wind and the Alliance, with both claiming their victory.
Cape Wind president Jim Gordon termed them as "incredibly important legal victories" for the project and said that it clears the way for completing the financing of a project that will diversify New England's electricity portfolio.
"It will help pave the way for other coastal regions to utilise this clean energy resource for energy independence, a healthier environment, and new jobs," Gordon said.
Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound president and CEO Audra Parker said, "This is good news for environmentalists and for all of us who want to see the fragile and unique environment of Cape Cod protected. The court has validated that federal agencies have taken unacceptable shortcuts in their review of Cape Wind."
The court has directed FWS to evaluate the possibility of shutting down the turbines during migratory bird season; the NMFS was told to assess the volume of whale incidents that are likely to take place.
Cape Wind, in a statement, termed the two compliance actions to be "minor agency administrative actions" that will not impact the project's financing schedule.
Caption: Siemens will supply 3.6MW offshore wind turbines for the Cape Wind project. Photo: courtesy of www.siemens.com/press.