Offshore wind in the US has had to fight to exist for a long time. The Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Cape Cod was envisioned over 20 years ago as a 1.5-gigawatt wind farm. Years of legal battles and other controversies saw the project start and stop multiple times with only minimal actual construction. Primary opposition came from residents who considered the turbines far off on the distant horizon to be an eyesore and threat to their property values. Eventually, the project was terminated in 2017.
Since then, offshore wind has gained substantial support in the US and multiple projects are either ongoing or in the permitting process. The 800 MW Vineyard Wind project is on track to be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the US, with plans to eventually generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.
Once again, Nantucket residents are fighting against an offshore wind farm. Once again, they are making arguments that are not really what concerns them, in this case, saying that the wind turbines are a threat to the survival of endangered North Atlantic right whales.
A federal judge has recently rejected a lawsuit brought by the group Nantucket Residents Against Turbines that sought to stop the project. The judge found that the group failed to show that either the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management or the National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act in its 2021 rulings on the impact of the proposed wind farm on the whales.
Undoubtedly there will be additional challenges from the group, possibly based on entirely different complaints. It’s tough to build offshore wind in Massachusetts.
Photo, posted November 21, 2016, courtesy of Adrian Scottow via Flickr.